64% of Israelis give Netanyahu failing grade on pandemic

What will be more worrying to Netanyahu is that 53 percent of those respondents who define themselves as right-wing expressed dissatisfaction with his performance.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A public opinion poll shows the Israeli public is not happy with the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is handling the coronavirus crisis, Channel 12 News reported over the weekend.

A majority of respondents to the poll were unhappy, with 64 percent of them answering that the prime minister is mismanaging the economic crisis.

What will be more worrying to Netanyahu is that 53 percent of those respondents who define themselves as right-wing expressed dissatisfaction with his performance.

The latest poll shows a continuing downward trend in support for Netanyahu, losing two percentage points from the previous poll conducted on July 6 where 62 percent of respondents rated the prime minister as “overall bad” in his handling of the economic aspects of the crisis. Only 32 percent said his performance was “overall good.”

Two and a half months ago, only 45 percent believed that Netanyahu was doing a bad job with the economic crisis.

However, 34 percent of those who answered the poll still said Netanyahu was the most capable to fill the top spot in the government. In second and third place, there was almost a draw between opposition leader Yair Lapid at 15 percent support and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett with 14 percent.

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Almost half of those polled, 46 percent, supported the anti-government demonstrations taking place nightly in Jerusalem near Netanyahu’s official residence.

Netanyahu may also be concerned about the drop in popular support for his party should the country go to elections. The poll shows the Likud would win 32 seats. A Channel 12 poll conducted on July 6 gave the Likud 37 seats, and in a preceding poll 40 seats – a drop of 8 seats within a month.

However, Netanyahu on Thursday rejected rumors that failure to pass a new national budget would lead to early elections.

“I’m not aiming for elections. That’s absurd,” Netanyahu said. “We are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. We have to deal with it. We also have to pass a budget.”

The prime minister said the only reason the country would go to elections would be “if we can’t pass a budget. We have until August 24,” he said, adding the only holdup was objection from coalition partner Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, which Netanyahu claimed was “not cooperating.”