Poll shows Israelis unhappy with Netanyahu, support continues to drop

As infections spread and the economy stagnates, public opinion is turning negative on those in charge.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A public opinion poll released Sunday evening showed Israelis are unhappy with the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party is dropping.

The poll, conducted by Channel 13, showed that if elections were held this week, the Likud would win 33 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, a drop of three seats from a previous poll conducted by the Maariv newspaper on July 10 and reflecting a downward trend in support for Netanyahu from a peak of 41 seats in a June 17 poll.

Likud won 36 seats in the March 2 election. As Israel continues to be battered by a second wave of coronavirus infections, the poll shows that 75 percent of respondents said the government is not doing a good job of handling the economic crisis and 61 percent are not satisfied with the job Netanyahu is doing to manage the country.

Asked about their concern for their personal economic stability and that of their families, 83 percent said they are worried, with 38 percent being very worried.

“These figures indicate a loss of confidence, apprehension and instability,” Channel 13 reported.

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Netanyahu announced last week a new relief package for those in financial distress, but there were large protests in Tel Aviv over the weekend by self-employed and others hard hit by continued closures and restrictions, especially in the entertainment industries. They said that the support is not enough or hasn’t shown up at all.

“Despite frequent promises, around half of the 80 billion shekels ($23 billion) previously promised to economic victims of coronavirus has not reached its intended recipients due to inefficient government bureaucracy,” wrote Jerusalem Post columnist Jeff Barak.

With coronavirus infections climbing and hospitals filling up with patients, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called for an immediate 10-day national closure, Ynet reported.

“It is better to have an immediate treatment of ‘bang and we’re done’ and end this situation,” Steinitz said, adding people would still be allowed to go to work, but that Israel had to get into a position to fully reopen its skies saying the “the air (travel) cutoff from the world is an economic danger.”

Netanyahu’s government won praise for successfully navigating the first wave of infections, but since reopening the economy two months ago the infection rate has increased and the second wave of infections has left more people sick with the virus than the first wave.

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Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that if daily infections, currently averaging around 1,200, reach 2,000 per day, there would be no choice but to impose a national lockdown to prevent the health system from collapsing.