Reuters / April 10, 2023
JERUSALEM – Support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has plummeted, according to a poll showing it would lose more than a third of its seats if an election were held now and fail to gain a majority with his hard-right coalition partners.
Amid a divisive battle over plans to tighten control over the Supreme Court, which the government has been forced to pause, and escalating violence with the Palestinians, the poll for Channel 13 News showed more than two thirds of voters disapproved of Netanyahu’s performance in office.
It indicated his conservative Likud party would win 20 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament, down from the 32 seats it won last November, and his religious-nationalist coalition would fail to gain a majority, with 46 seats, down from 64.
If elections were held today, former Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s centre-right slate would come first with 29 seats, followed by Yair Lapid’s centrist party at 21 seats, according to the survey conducted by Camil Fuchs.
When asked about Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister, 71% of the 699 respondents said it was “not good” and 20% said it was “good”, Channel 13 News reported.
The Likud party’s Boaz Bismuth dismissed the survey.
“There was an amazing and very, very reliable poll on November 1, I still rely on it,” he told Army Radio on Monday, referring to the last national election, which broke a political deadlock that had seen five elections in less than four years.
Netanyahu’s hard-right government pledged to overhaul the judicial system but paused legislation to allow for compromise discussions with opposition parties following weeks of nationwide protests.
Supporters say the changes will restore balance between the branches of government. Critics say the plan will weaken the courts and hand unbridled power to the government.
The demonstrations come during a year of escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence, in which more than 250 Palestinians and at least 42 Israelis and foreigners have been killed.
Israeli police raids on Al-Aqsa mosque compound last week triggered rocket attacks on Israel that were met with Israeli strikes on sites in Gaza, south Lebanon and Syria.
Al-Aqsa compound – sacred to Muslims and Jews, who know it as Temple Mount – is in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Reporting by Henriette Chacar, editing by Angus MacSwan