Half of Israelis Oppose Unity Government Headed by Netanyahu, Poll Finds

Survey also shows that the results of a potential third election cycle would be nearly identical to September vote

President Reuven Rivlin with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz at Mt. Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, September 23, 2019.
Mark Neiman/GPO

Half the Israeli public does not support forming a unity government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Walla news website poll released Sunday shows.

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Of the remaining respondents, 42 percent of Israelis support a unity government of Kahol Lavan and Likud headed by Netanyahu, and eight percent were undecided.

Both Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan have been calling for a national unity government led by the two biggest party, but negotiations have so far failed. Gantz's party has refused to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, citing his corruption cases. 

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The poll also tested the waters of a third round of elections – and found that the political map wouldn't budge. Almost all the parties would receive the same number of Knesset seats they have now, pollsters found. The exception is Netanyahu's Likud, which would gain one seat, to 33, at the expense of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, which would fall to seven seats if the election were held now.

It also asked respondents about a post-Netanyahu Likud: If Gideon Sa’ar was at the helm of the party, the poll found, it would drop to 26 Knesset seats. But Sa’ar is still the leading candidate to head Likud after Netanyahu. When asked of the best candidate to lead the party, 35 percent of respondents preferred the prime minister, with 29 percent saying Sa'ar should lead. But when taken alone, right-wing voters still chose Netanyahu, giving him 54 percent of their support to Sa'ar's 24 percent.

Other Likud members fared worse: Five percent want Yuli Edelstein to lead the party, Gilad Erdan got two percent and Yisrael Katz just one percent. Nevertheless, Netanyahu walked back on his plan to hold a snap party leadership primary over the weekend.

The poll, which was conducted through an electronic and internet survey among a representative sample of the entire Israeli population aged 18 and older, was administered by the Midgam Institute, headed by Mano Geva. It had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.