Public Approves Lapid’s Handling of Conflict, But Polls Don’t Move

By Yisrael Price

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (then foreign minister) and Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu (then prime minister), November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – If Prime Minister Yair Lapid or anyone else looked for a big jump in the electoral polls after three days of fighting Islamic Jihad, they were mistaken.

Oddly, even though approval ratings for Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s handling of the conflict were high, Lapid’s Yesh Atid party was not doing much better than before the violence broke out, according to three separate polls released on Monday night.

A Channel 12 poll found that 68 percent of Israelis think Israel won the conflict with a similar number approving of Lapid’s performance. Gantz got a 73% approval rating.

Nevertheless, Lapid’s party remains stuck well behind opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, 34 for Likud versus 24 for Yesh Atid, only slightly better than the latter stood in recent polls.

Gantz’s Blue and White got 12; Religious Zionism 10; Shas 8; United Torah Judaism 7; Joint List 6; Ra’am 5; Labor 5; Yisrael Beytenu 5 and Meretz 4. Ayelet Shaked’s Zionist Spirit was again under the threshold.

The upshot: the pro-Netanyahu bloc would have 59 seats, the current coalition 55, and the Joint List 6, if elections were held today.

Similar results are seen in Channel 13’s poll: Likud 34; Yesh Atid 22; Blue and White 11; Religious Zionism 11; Shas 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Joint List 6; Yisrael Beytenu 5; Labor 5; Meretz 4; Ra’am 4; Zionist Spirit 4.

This is the only poll that sees Zionist Spirit making it into the Knesset. If that happens, it and if Shaked makes a deal with Netanyahu, it could give him the majority he needs to form a government.

The Kan public broadcaster forecasts Likud with 33; Yesh Atid 23; Blue and White 12; Religious Zionism 11; Shas 8; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 6; Joint List 6; Labor 5; Meretz 5, and Ra’am 4.

In a speech to the nation on Monday night Lapid had a moment as prime minister that could be expected to translate into votes, proclaiming that Israel had achieved all of its goals in the military operation in Gaza, which he, along with Gantz, authorized.

“Lapid is in a much stronger position than he was before because the main claim against him is he is not experienced enough,” said Gayil Talshir, a political analyst from Hebrew University told AP. ”He might also be able to claim that he’s trying to achieve a change of paradigm” underpinning Israel’s Gaza policy.

A former journalist and media personality, the left-leaning Lapid has always been seen at a disadvantage facing off against the hawkish Netanyahu, with his many years leading the country.

But the success, so far, in hitting Islamic Jihad and not giving in to their demands for release of prisoners, could change that.

 “It’s crucial to his campaign,” said Tal Schneider, a veteran Israeli political correspondent. “It’s helpful when you have more of a military activity experience when you go into election.”

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