Two weekend polls show that the mini-war in Gaza earlier this week that led to the resignation of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister has had a negative impact on the Likud and on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – but not too negative, with the Likud losing some seats to its right-wing coalition partners.
In a poll taken by the Smith Organization on behalf of Channel 20, if elections were held today the Likud would fall from its recent polling highs of 32 to 34 seats to 29. Those seats, according to the poll, would go to Jewish Home and Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu; the former would get 11 seats, slightly more than the 9 or 10 the party had been polling at, while Liberman’s party would get 8, significantly more than the 5 or 6 it had been polling at. However, commentators said that this could just be the result of the extra attention Liberman has been receiving in recent days, following his dramatic announcement.
Similarly, Netanyahu is less popular than he was – but just slightly. If in previous polls the current prime minister was seen as the best man for the job by over 35 percent of the public, the current poll has just 30 percent saying that.
However, Netanyahu has little competition; the next likely candidate would be former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who is seen by 15 percent of the public as the best candidate. Yair Lapid would be preferred by 9 percent, Bennett by 8 percent, and Liberman by just 5 percent. Nearly 30 percent said they had no opinion at this time.
A poll by Maariv shows similar results, with the Likud getting 30 seats, the same number it has now. The poll, conducted by the Panel4All organization, shows Jewish Home getting 12 seats, and Yisrael Beytenu 7. However, that poll showed that 70 percent of the public was dissatisfied with the way Netanyahu handled the events in the south earlier this week, while 50 percent said Hamas won the recent round of fighting; only 19 percent said Israel did. In addition, 43 percent of those polled said they preferred elections as soon as possible, while 34 percent said they were opposed to that idea.
In both polls, Yesh Atid comes in as the second biggest party, with the Channel 20 poll giving it 16 seats, and Maariv’s, 17. In both polls, Zionist Camp loses more strength; both polls show it getting no more than 11 seats. Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu also strengthens somewhat, getting 8 seats in the Channel 20 poll, and 7 in Maariv’s. The Channel 20 poll also shows that if Gantz were to form a party, it would get 15 seats. In both polls United Torah Judaism would get 8 seats, and Shas 5.