Poll Shows Netanyahu as Popular as Ever

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues to remain the most popular figure in Israeli politics. A new poll published in Maariv said that if elections were held today, the Likud, led by Netanyahu, would get 34 seats – four more than it has in the current Knesset. Those extra votes were drawn from two sources, the poll shows – Jewish Home, a member of his coalition, and Yesh Atid, which is in the opposition.

Those two parties continued to poll lower than they did at the beginning of the year. The Maariv poll showed that if elections were held now, the Yair Lapid-led Yesh Atid party would get 17 seats – six to seven fewer than it had been polling recently. Jewish Home, meanwhile, would get nine – with earlier polls showing the party getting as many as 15 seats in new elections.

The poll, taken by the Smith organization, indicates the public is satisfied with Netanyahu’s recent performance and the way he is leading the government. Netanyahu’s numbers jumped last month after the revelations about the Iranian nuclear cache, and were strengthened with the move of the U.S. Embassy to Yerushalayim – and the public is apparently satisfied with the way the government handled last week’s flare-up in Gaza, Maariv said. In a separate question in the poll, 58 percent of Israelis said they approved or strongly approved of Netanyahu’s leadership during the Gaza crisis, while 42 percent said they did not.

Continuing to scrape along is Zionist Camp, which would get only 11 seats in a new Knesset. The poll also shows United Torah Judaism with six seats, and Shas with five. Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu would get seven seats, while Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would get eight. Meretz would get six seats, while a party led by ex-Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abukasis would get five.

In addition, 21 percent of those polled said they were satisfied with Avigdor Liberman’s performance as defense minister, and would want him to continue. Seventeen percent saw former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon as the best candidate, and 11 percent said they wanted Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to get the job.

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