Poll: Bennett’s Right-wing Yemina party soars with 21 seats

Public showing their frustration at the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A public opinion poll released Monday evening shows a slight improvement for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, but a major surge in support for the right-wing Yemina Party led by former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.

According to the Channel 13 poll, if elections were held now the Likud would be leading with 31 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, followed by the right-wing Yemina Party with 21 seats and the centrist Yesh Atid Party with 18 seats.

A month ago Likud support had dropped to a point where they would win only 27 seats, but the spotlight appears to be on Bennett, whose party won only six seats in the March 20 elections.

Bennett’s popularity has been surging since he refused an offer to join the national unity government and instead decided to sit in opposition. He has been a fierce critic of the government’s handling of the twin coronavirus health and economic crises that continue to pummel Israel.

With coronavirus infections hitting a new high Tuesday and Israel having the ignoble reputation of the world’s highest per capita infection rate, public frustration appears to be mounting.

Outside of their voting preferences, 65 percent of the respondents said they were dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s performance in managing the corona crisis.

Despite that, the poll showed there is still lack of a viable alternative to Netanyahu’s leadership. In response to the question of who is best suited to serve as prime minister, 32 percent of the public still choose Netanyahu, 27 are undecided, and 18 percent would pick Bennett.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid has only 13 percent support and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White Party finished a close second in the election and was once considered a strong contender, was last with 10 percent.

The poll showed Gantz’s Blue and White losing ground and plunging to 11 seats from 33.  The other parties remain stable in their support with the predominantly Arab Joint List at 13 seats, the religious Shas and United Torah Judaism with seven seats each, and Yisrael Beiteinu and the left-wing Meretz at the bottom of the list with six seats each.

If election results matched the numbers in the poll, the right-wing bloc in the Knesset would have a majority of 66 seats, while the left-leaning parties would have 48. It is unclear whether Yisrael Beiteinu, whose leader Avigdor Liberman has held out against joining any Netanyahu-led government, would join his six seats to a right-wing coalition or remain in the opposition.

The poll also asked how respondents would react to a national lockdown for the Rosh Hashana, or Jewish New Year, holiday period that begins next weekend.

A majority of 64 percent answered that they would fully comply with a closure, some nine percent responded that they would comply other than continuing to meet for family celebrations and holiday meals. Another 13 percent indicated that they would comply with only some of the instructions, and only 9 percent of the respondents said that they would not comply with the closure; five percent did not know.