Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is still way ahead of its political opponents, a new poll released on Sunday night on Israel's Channel 13 News shows, but voters are deeply dissatisfied with the premier's management of the coronavirus crisis.
The people surveyed gave Netanyahu a 15 percent approval rating, with 61 percent saying they were dissastified. This is a deep tumble from an April 21 survey that had the prime minister on a 32.34 percent approval rating. In the last month, Netanyahu has also faced backlash for requesting a large tax break, while his crusade against the judiciary amid his trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust continues to make headlines.
Only 10 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. In both cases, more than half of respondents expressed their dissatisfaction. Asked about their perception of the government's management of the crisis, 75 percent of respondents said it was "not good."
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If new elections were to be called today, Likud would get 33 seats, down from its current 36, while its coalition partner from across the aisle, Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan, would only get 9, down from 14. Kahol Lavan's junior partner, Derech Eretz, which currently has two lawmakers in the Knesset, would not clear the electoral threshold.
This is a substantial loss for the prime minister and the defense minister from the last Channel 13 poll, conducted in late June, in which Likud garnered 38 seats, with the prime minister riding on the coattails of a coronavirus response widely seen as successful.
The biggest winner of this exercise is Yamina, the national-religious party headed by former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. They jumped from five seats in the current Knesset to 13, up another two since the June poll, presumably reaping the profits of Bennett's confidence when in post during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis.
Former Gantz ally Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid also gains two seats from its current standing, remaining the second biggest faction in parliament.
Given this breakup of seats, the current coalition, which does not include Yamina, could not hold. But the gains of the far-right outfit, which the poll predicts would win 13 seats, and the floundering of both Gantz and the left would give a right-wing government made up of Likud, Yamina and the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism a slim 61-seat majority.
The support of Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman, widely considered the last elections' kingmaker, could bring eight more seats to such a government. But although Yisrael Beiteinu has lots in common with Likud in terms of policies, a deep personal rift now separates the two party leaders and former allies. The party, which is close to the country's large Russian minority, is secular, which has also brought it at loggerheads with the religious parties that Netanyahu cannot do without.
Far-left party Meretz would also double its presence in the legislature, up to seven seats from the current three, the same as their June position. It further consolidates their leading presence in the Jewish left, which has shrunk on the whole. In this poll, the Labor party fails to clear the threshold with 1.3 percent of the votes, as does its former ally, Gesher.
The Joint List of predominantly Arab parties remains stable, with 16 seats, as do Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.
The survey was conducted among 702 respondents by Prof. Camille Fuchs. The sampling error is reported to be 3.9%