Netanyahu at Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee hearing
Netanyahu at Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee hearingMiriam Alster/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would likely win a fifth term as premier if new elections were held today – but his margin for victory to the narrowest level in months, with a majority of the public disapproving of his performance as Defense Minister.

Since the late spring and through the summer of much of the fall, the Likud has held a massive lead in polls, often leading its nearest competitor, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction, by 20 or more seats.

The lead began to erode, however, following the government’s decision to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the Hamas terrorist organization, following a spate of attacks from Gaza last month.

Netanyahu urged Israelis to back the ceasefire, saying there was sensitive information he could not share with the public which validated his decision to seek a quick end to the conflict.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party bolted the government in protest of the move, with Netanyahu taking on the role of Defense Minister.

Last week, Israel was rocked by a string of terror attacks in Samaria, most of them perpetrated by the Hamas terror organization. One attack last Sunday left seven civilians wounded and killed an infant born prematurely as a result of the attack.

On Thursday, Hamas terrorists gunned down a group of Israelis north of Jerusalem, killing two soldiers and wounding a soldier and a civilian.

In the wake of these and other attacks, an absolute majority of Israelis say they are unsatisfied with Netanyahu’s performance as Defense Minister.

According to a poll conducted Sunday by Midgam for HaHadashot, just 33% of the 533 respondents said they were satisfied with Netanyahu as Defense Minister, compared to 58% who were unsatisfied.

The poll also shows the Likud falling from the 30 seats it won in 2015 to 28.

In second place is a new party, formed by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, with 16 mandates – most of them taken from Yesh Atid, which fell in the poll to 13 seats.

The Zionist Union – an amalgamation of Labor and the left-leaning Hantua faction – would win just 10 seats, down from its present 24, while the left-wing Meretz party would fall from 5 mandates to 4.

The predominantly Arab Joint List faction would win 12 seats, down from 13.

The Jewish Home would gain a single mandate, rising from eight seats to nine, while Yisrael Beytenu would win six seats.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu faction, which won 10 seats in 2015, would fall to just 5 if new elections were held today, with 60% of the public disapproving of Kahlon’s performance as Finance Minister, compared to just 30% who are satisfied with his performance.

Among the haredi factions, Shas would fall from seven seats to five, while United Torah Judaism would rise from six to seven seats.

A new party let by former Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy would win five seats.

If Benny Gantz would run on the Yesh Atid ticket, however, the faction would win 26 seats, compared to 29 for the Likud.

Yisrael Beytenu would win seven seats rather than six in this scenario, while Meretz would win five instead of four.