T. Belman: Is this poll not irrelevant. Netanyahu’s party is slated to get about 25 seats in next Knesset. That will make Likud the biggest party. With support of Bennett, he will get the first opportunity to form the government.
Prime Minister Nanyahu’s chances of coasting to an easy victory in the March 17 election took a surprising hit on Thursday when a Panels Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and its Hebrew sister newspaper, Ma’ariv Sof Hashavua, found that a hefty majority of Israelis want him to lose.
The poll, taken on Wednesday among 500 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult population, indicated that the election could end up being close and assumptions that Netanyahu cannot be defeated may be incorrect.
It asked respondents whether they want Netanyahu to remain prime minister after the vote. Sixty percent said no, 34% said yes, and 6% did not know.
The poll asked about several party leaders and asked respondents whom they would prefer one-on-one if there were direct elections for prime minister.
In a head-to-head race between Netanyahu and former welfare and social services minister Moshe Kahlon, 46% preferred Kahlon, 36% Netanyahu and 18% did not know. Between Netanyahu and former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, 43% said Sa’ar, 38% Netanyahu and 19% did not know.
Likud activists revealed on Thursday that Sa’ar is considering making a political comeback just three months after announcing at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast that he was taking a break from politics.
He is mulling running against Netanyahu in the January 6 Likud leadership race, they said. Sa’ar declined to comment.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog of Labor was almost tied with Netanyahu in the poll, with 44% saying they would prefer him, compared to 45% for Netanyahu and 11% who did not know.
Netanyahu defeated the other party leaders, beating Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett by 12 percentage points, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid by 17 points, and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman by 28 points.
While a Geocartography Institute poll broadcast on Army Radio this week predicted the Likud would win 30 Knesset seats and polls on Channel 2 and 10 reported 22, the Panels poll found Netanyahu’s party would win only 21, just three more than Bayit Yehudi’s 18.
If the election were held now, Labor would win 14 seats, Kahlon’s party and Yesh Atid 11 each, Yisrael Beytenu nine, United Torah Judaism and Meretz both eight, Shas seven, Hadash five, and Hatnua and the United Arab List four each. Balad and Kadima would not pass the electoral threshold, which has risen from 2% to 3.25%.
The poll found that 64% of respondents believe the country’s socioeconomic situation has gotten worse under the outgoing government and 58% think the security situation has worsened.
When asked what issue will decide which party they will choose on Election Day, 34% said the economy, 30% security, 14% social justice, 10% matters of religion and state, 5% Arab-Jewish relations and 2% education and culture. Just 1% said Israel’s foreign relations. The poll had a …read more