Poll: Netanyahu maintains overwhelming support as Likud leader

Cabinet minister Miri Regev accused MK Gideon Sa’ar of “directing friendly fire” within the party and hoped that he wouldn’t “stab Netanyahu in the back.”

By World Israel News Staff 

Even as MK Gideon Sa’ar steps up his campaign to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as leader of the Likud, party members continue to overwhelmingly prefer the incumbent prime minister as their leader, according to a public opinion poll published on Tuesday.

The survey, released by Channel 12, showed that among Likud member, 88% said that they would vote for Netanyahu in the anticipated upcoming party primary.

Other would-be challengers have been cautious, if not silent, about questioning Netanyahu’s ability to serve after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Thursday that the prime minister would be indicted in connection to three cases of alleged corruption.

Sa’ar has been a lone voice, saying that a primary is necessary immediately to replace the current leader, also after two failed attempts to form a new government this year following Knesset elections in April and September.

However, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev has accused Sa’ar of “directing friendly fire” within the party and added that she hoped that Sa’ar would not “stab Netanyahu in the back.”

“The Likud is a family and you don’t turn on your family,” the minister said Tuesday in an interview on Kan public radio, insisting that “the problem is not Netanyahu; it’s the Likud and the right,” an apparent reference to an accusation that left-wing forces have been working through the investigations against the prime minister to bring down the right-wing government.

In a meeting on Monday with local authority leaders who are supporters of the Likud, the prime minister said that he is feeling “the energy on the ground” and “tremendous support” among Israelis, reports Israel Hayom.

“We still have a task at hand. It is to set up a unity government to the extent possible. The contacts have not been stopped; they are taking place,” Netanyahu told the Likud backers.

Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz also continued to speak on Monday in favor of the formation of a unity government, though he and Netanyhau have differed over how to go about it.

In the September election, Blue and White edged out the Likud 33-32 in the 120-seat parliament.

The just-released Channel 12 poll showed that Blue and White would win by a far wider margin, 37-30, if another election were held. The Knesset has through December 11 to choose a new prime minister or force the public to go to the polls for a third parliamentary election within a year.