Poll: Israelis Confident in Country's International Standing Without Netanyahu

According to the Israel Democracy Institute, which polled 752 people in Hebrew and Arabic last month, most Israelis believe that Israel has a better international reputation, or that it has remained the same, under Bennett

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
Campaign ads on Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv show former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2019.
Campaign ads on Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv show former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2019.Credit: NIR ELIAS/ REUTERS
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Despite former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reputation among Israelis as an accomplished diplomat, a majority believe that their country’s international standing has either remained the same or improved under current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute, which polled 752 people in Hebrew and Arabic late last month, 37 percent of Israelis believe that there has been no change in Jerusalem’s ties abroad, while 28 percent replied that they believed there has been an improvement under Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Arab Israelis were slightly more optimistic than their Jewish counterparts regarding Israel’s standing abroad. Thirty-seven percent of Jews and 40 percent of Arabs said that nothing had changed, while 27 percent of Jews and 30 percent of Arabs saw an improvement. Thirty percent of Jews said that they had observed a deterioration in foreign ties, significantly higher than the 23 percent of Arabs who agreed.

“One of former Prime Minister Netanyahu’s perceived strength was his reputation among Israelis as a statesman whose prestige helped improve the country's standing in the international arena,” the IDI said, noting that Israelis’ views on this issue correlated with their political leaning.

Of the Jews who identify as right wing, 44 percent said that things had gotten worse, while only 11 percent in the center and 6 percent on the left agreed. Seventeen percent of those on the right believed things have improved, a number which rose to 42 percent in the center and 53 percent on the left.

Netanyahu frequently boasts of his diplomatic skills and close relationships with his counterparts abroad; in 2019, his Likud Party launched an ad campaign featuring images of the then-prime minister shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, then-U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian premier Narendra Modi. Meant to showcase the former Israeli leader’s relations with heads of state, the banners featured the tagline “Netanyahu: A different league.”

Netanyahu frequently touted his close ties to leaders such as Trump and bragged about his role in brokering the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel gain recognition from several Arab states last year. However, he has also been criticized with centralizing diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office and hollowing out the professional foreign service, as well for ignoring antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism from eastern and central European allies.

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