Netanyahu’s approval rating plummets in latest poll

Public approval of prime minister drops to 46 percent from a high of 74 percent two months ago as Israel gets stuck in second wave of coronavirus pandemic.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‏‏’s popularity has plummeted 28 percent in the past two months with a majority of Israelis now saying they are not happy with his handling of the coronavirus health and economic crisis, Channel 12 reported Monday.

The public opinion poll by Channel 12 News released Monday evening showed that only 46 percent of Israelis approve of the way Netanyahu is running the country. This compares to 58 percent approval last week and 74 percent positive opinion two months ago as the first wave of the pandemic was put under control.

However, with the second wave setting new records for infections and fueling fears of a new shutdown, only 33 percent of respondents approved of Netanyahu’s handling of the economic crisis. The poll showed that a majority of right-wing voters said they believed the crisis has been mismanaged.

The poll shows that if elections were held now, Netanyahu’s Likud Party would get 37 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament. That continues a downward trend from a peak of 42 in a poll conducted April 8.

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The voting patterns find that the Arab Joint List and Yesh Atid parties are tied for second-largest party with 15 seats each, while the right-wing Yemina party gained support – apparently from dissatisfied Likud supporters – and would receive 11 seats, up from its current five seats.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party also improved in the polls and would win 11 seats, up from the low of nine seats in a June 28 poll but still below the 15 seats they currently hold.

Netanyahu started off well when the corona crisis hit. He imposed national curfews and partially shut down the economy, reducing new infections to near zero at the start of May. But the infection rate began to rise after restrictions were eased.

With the coronavirus now spreading at an exponential rate, health officials warn that unless the public cooperates and follows all health guidelines, the country could face another nationwide lockdown as early as next week. Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel was only “a step away” from such a lockdown.