Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu Liron Moldovan/POOL/Flash90

An absolute majority of Israelis say Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is their preferred candidate for premier, according to a new poll released Friday.

The poll, conducted by Maagar Mohot and published by Israel Hayom Friday morning, found that a growing number of Israelis prefer Netanyahu as prime minister, with more than 50% backing him for the first time in over a year.

Fifty-one-percent of respondents said Netanyahu was best suited to serve as premier, followed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a distant second with 23%. Incumbent Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came in third place with 12%, followed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz with 9% and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar with 5%.

If elections were held today, the poll found, the Likud would win 32 seats, up from 29 in the last Maagar Mohot poll, which was released on July 16th.

Yesh Atid came in second with 18 seats, down from 21 in last month’s poll, while the New Hope party, which won six seats in this year’s election, would fail to pass the electoral threshold.

The Blue and White party of Benny Gantz received 10 seats in the poll, up from seven last month, while Yamina sank from nine seats to eight.

The haredi factions Shas and United Torah Judaism received eight and seven seats respectively, while the Religious Zionist Party alliance with Otzma Yehudit and Noam held steady at seven seats.

Yisrael Beytenu would win seven seats if new elections were held today, up from six seats last month.

Labor fell from seven seats in last month’s poll to six seats on Friday, while Meretz held steady at six seats.

The Joint Arab List is projected to win six seats, the same number as in last month’s poll, while the United Arab List fell from six to five seats.

Broken down by bloc, the parties backing Netanyahu received a total of 54 seats, while the Left-Arab bloc received 51 seats, with 15 seats going to right-of-center parties in the current coalition government.