In just the space of a month, approval ratings for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have nosedived, a special weekend poll published in Maariv shows. The poll conducted by the Panel Politics organization has 63 percent of Likud voters approving of how Netanyahu is running the country – a figure that at the beginning of November stood at 80 percent.
A similar process has been at work among the general voting public. A November 9th poll showed 36 percent of all Israelis stating that Netanyahu was the best choice of any likely candidate for prime minister, far ahead of Zionist Camp’s Avi Gabay, who came in second place with just 14 percent. The latest poll shows that only 26 percent of all voters believe that Netanyahu is the best man for the job.
The poll did not point to a specific reason for the loss of faith in Netanyahu, but several questions indicated that the electorate was dissatisfied with several issues. The Recommendations Law, which would prevent police from making recommendations on prosecution of individuals under investigation, was called an “unworthy law” by 47 percent of the public; only 24 percent approve of the law that Likud MKs are determined to pass. Only 58 percent of Likud voters approve of it as well. Fifty percent of the public disapproved of how Netanyahu handled the latest crisis regarding train maintenance on Shabbos, while only 33 percent approved. While 53 percent said that Israel faced “religious coercion,” 35 percent said that the Jewish character of the state was in grave danger.
In the new poll, support for Yair Lapid as prime minister has grown. Eighteen percent of respondents in the current poll said that he was the best candidate for prime minister, compared to 11 percent in the November poll. Gabay falls from 14 percent to 9 percent in the new poll. Twenty-one percent said that none of the three were worthy of the job.
In terms of mandates, the poll shows that the Likud and Yesh Atid would both get 25 seats if Knesset elections were held today. Zionist Camp would get 15, Jewish Home 12, the United Arab List 11, and United Torah Judaism would get eight. Shas, unlike in some recent polls, does make it into the Knesset with four seats. Yisrael Beytenu would get five seats, and Meretz and Kulanu would get six each. However, in one surprising result, the poll shows that if deposed minister Gideon Saar – who is seen as one of Netanyahu’s chief rivals – were at the head of the Likud, the party would get 30 seats, with those extra five seats coming at the expense of Yesh Atid and Zionist Camp.