Lapid opens wide lead over Netanyahu in new poll

Netanyahu's approval rating sinks to 33% as Yesh Atid shows 5-seat lead over Likud in latest poll.

David Rosenberg,

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Hadas Parush / Flash 90

Thirty-three percent of Israelis approve of Binyamin Netanyahu’s service as Prime Minister, a new Panels Politics poll indicates, while 59% of Israelis disapprove of Mr. Netanyahu.

According to the poll, published Sunday morning by Maariv, Prime Minister Netanyahu still retains leads over possible challengers to the premiership – but his Likud party would nevertheless likely lose to former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

When given the choice of Netanyahu or a series of possible challengers, Netanyahu remains the favorite – though in some cases by narrow margins.

While 44% said they favored Netanyahu as Prime Minister, 34% said they would prefer Lapid.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog – who was considered a serious contender for the premiership in 2015 – was the candidate of choice for just 19% of Israelis in a head-to-head matchup with Netanyahu, compared to 55% for Mr. Netanyahu.

If Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett were the primary competition for Netanyahu, the latter would enjoy a 20-point lead, 44% to 24%. Netanyahu’s lead over Kahlon was essentially the same; 44% to 23%.

Interior Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) came closest to beating Netanyahu, with 33% to the Netanyahu’s 38%.

In a Knesset election, however, Yesh Atid would beat the ruling Likud party by five points, the poll showed, 27 to 22.

In a distant third, the Jewish Home would win 14 seats, up from the 8 it won in 2015.

The predominantly Arab Joint List party would remain stable at 13. The far-left Meretz party would also maintain its current strength, with five mandates.

Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union, which won 24 seats in 2015, would plummet to just 10 if elections were held today.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party would sink from 10 seats to just 6, while Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would rise from 6 to 9.

The haredi parties would make a net gain of one seat, from 13 to 14. Shas would remain stable at 7, while United Torah Judaism would rise from 6 to 7.

The poll also posed a hypothetical scenario, with a “Liberal Likud” faction entering the race, bringing together Gideon Saar, former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, and Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon (also a former Likud member).

In such a scenario, Likud would come out on top with 21 seats, Yesh atid in second with 20, and the new “Liberal Likud” with 19 mandates.

Shas would lose one seat, from 7 to 6, as would Meretz, falling from 5 to 4. The Zionist Union would lose three, falling from 10 to 7.

When asked whether Sergeant Elor Azariya, now on trial for shooting a wounded terrorist in Hevron, was justified in his actions, Israelis were roughly split evenly, with 46% saying he was justified, compared to 41% who said he was not.