Netanyahu punished in new poll, but Israelis still want government of the Right

The poll shows Israelis unhappy with Netanyahu’s performance during the corona crisis. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Sixty-five percent of Israelis say Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s performance during the corona crisis has been bad, according to a Channel 12 poll revealed Tuesday.

The results are perhaps not surprising given that the country is in the middle of a restrictive lockdown, which includes a near-blanket ban on air travel.

Only 31% said his performance was good and 4% said they didn’t know, according to the poll of 503 respondents on Oct. 6. It was conducted by the Midgam polling firm.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein of the Likud party also didn’t fare well in the poll with 53% saying his performance was bad and only 30% saying he was doing a good job.

In an expression of their disapproval, those surveyed appeared to be abandoning Netanyahu’s Likud for the more right-wing Yemina party led by Naftali Bennett. The poll shows, if elections were held today, that the Likud would win only 26 Knesset seats to Yemina’s 23.

The Likud dismissed the numbers, citing a similar 2014 poll in which Bennett, leading another party at the time, was running neck-and-neck with the Likud. In the end, Likud received 30 seats and Bennett’s party only eight.

“Everyone knows how this ends,” the Likud party tweeted. “We’re used to the left-wing media building up Bennett to try and bring down Netanyahu and the Likud. It won’t work this time either.”

However, as a bloc Israel’s Right remains stronger than the Left, with a total of 49 seats to the Left’s 32. When joined with the religious bloc the Right has 65 Knesset seats, a comfortable majority in the 120-seat Knesset. The Left, when joined with the Arab bloc (15) and Israel Beiteinu (8) manages only 58 seats.

The poll shows the Labor party, which dominated Israeli politics for decades, finally meeting its end. Led by Amir Peretz it would not pass the electoral threshold.

Reflecting the Israeli public’s low opinion of the current unity government, which has been plagued by infighting, a majority wants another election – this despite three back-to-back elections, the last in March.

The poll finds 49% of respondents support going to the polls again soon. Broken down by bloc, 58% of the center-left want elections and 45% of the Right want them.