Poll shows a majority of Israeli public wants an end to Bennett government

A survey released on Monday found that the majority of the Israeli public is dissatisfied with the governing coalition and that Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party is polling below the minimum number of votes needed to enter the Knesset.

The Channel 12 poll found solid support for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, which has gained ground since last year’s election, in line with other recent surveys.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government appears to be headed for a collapse one year after taking power and fell into the minority in the Knesset on Monday when a member of the premier’s Yamina party quit the coalition.

The government has been on the ropes since April, when another member of Yamina resigned, and has skidded from one crisis to another since then, as Netanyahu and his allies clamor for the formation of a new government.

The Channel 12 poll found that 56 percent of Israelis believe Bennett’s government should not “continue to exist.” Only 35% of respondents supported the coalition’s continuance.

Among those who voted for coalition parties, 63% still support the government and 29% think its tenure should end.

The poll showed the Netanyahu-led bloc winning 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, one short of the majority needed to form a government. A handful of other recent polls have showed similar figures for the right wing-religious bloc, which won 52 seats in last year’s election and has gained strength since then at Bennett’s expense.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, on June 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The survey showed Bennett and his current political allies winning 55 seats if elections were held today, far short of a majority.

Netanyahu’s Likud party was the leader in the poll, winning a projected 36 seats, followed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid, with 20.

Among coalition parties, Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White polled at 10 seats; the center-left Labor, six; Avigdor Liberman’s secular, right-wing Yisrael Beytenu, five; Bennett’s right-wing Yamina, five; Mansour Abbas’s Islamist Ra’am, five; and the dovish Meretz, four.

In Netanyahu’s bloc, the far-right Religious Zionism party headed by Bezalel Smotrich polled at nine seats; the Haredi Shas party, eight; and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism, seven.

The Arab-majority Joint List faction, which is in the opposition but not aligned with the Netanyahu-led bloc, was projected to win five seats.

The New Hope party polled at 2.9%, below the 3.25% threshold needed to win Knesset representation.

Respondents favored Netanyahu as prime minister on opposition leaders Bennett, Lapid or Gantz, by a wide margin.

A majority of respondents, 56%, were opposed to the participation of Arab parties in future governments, and 31% were in favor. For Jewish respondents, 62% were against, and for Arabs, 51% were in favor of Arab political participation.

Netanyahu and his allies have continuously attacked Ra’am’s participation in the government, calling the party “terror supporters,” even though Netanyahu himself courted Ra’am after last year’s election.

Arab lawmakers from Ra’am and Meretz have rebelled against the government in recent weeks, helping the opposition scuttle key legislation.

While recent polls have shown Netanyahu’s bloc nearing a majority, none have indicated a clear path to a government for any candidate. Israel went through a series of grueling, inconclusive elections between 2019 and 2021, resulting in damaging political dysfunction.

Bennett warned Monday that the imperiled coalition will collapse completely in a week or two if the growing number of renegade lawmakers within the ruling bloc don’t return to cooperating fully with the alliance.

Hours before Bennett’s speech, Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach, a longtime ally of Bennett, quit the coalition, accusing “extremist, anti-Zionist elements,” such as Arab MKs Mazen Ghanaim of Ra’am and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of Meretz, of pulling the coalition “in problematic directions” and “holding it hostage.”

Orbach said he would not vote in the coming week to disperse the Knesset and initiate snap elections. Instead, he vowed to work to form an alternative coalition with a “patriotic spirit” in the existing parliament — a tall order given that the Knesset appears to still contain a majority of lawmakers who refuse to join a coalition with Netanyahu.

The Midgam institute and iPanel carried out Monday’s survey for Channel 12. The network did not disclose its sample size or margin of error.

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