A recently published Peace Index of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University (TAU) reveals that: 46% of Jewish Israelis name Benjamin Netanyahu as their preferred candidate for the next prime minister. Despite this boost, 76% of Israelis are critical of the government’s handling of the crisis on Israel’s border with Hamas-run Gaza.
Israelis are a curious lot. If one were to go out into the street and take a straw poll of people’s opinions on Prime Minister Netanyahu, they would likely tell you that he’s a crook and that his time in politics should come to an end. However, if you also asked them who they’d likely vote for in a forthcoming election, they’d probably not even hesitate to say Benjamin Netanyahu. Such is life in Israeli politics.
The index’s main findings showed that 46% of respondents viewed Netanyahu as first among potential candidates. Benny Gantz, the former commander in chief of the IDF was second with a strong 39% support. The Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid were tied on 23%. Avigdor Lieberman, the former Defense Minister, whose November resignation nearly prompted the fall of Netanyahu’s coalition government and therefore a general election, was further back on 19%. Among the Arabs, Tzipi Livni is in first place, with 27% who would want to see her as the next prime minister. The majority of Jewish and Arab Israelis (61% and 72% respectively) think they will vote for the same party they voted for in the previous elections.
While a large minority supported Netanyahu’s putative candidacy for 2019 elections (in whichever month they will be), a majority – 58% – said they did not think that he should hold the defense portfolio in addition to his duties as prime minister (and foreign minister). A review of the responses from the left and center political camps showed an overwhelming majority – 86% and 73% respectively – thought that Netanyahu’s handling of the security issue is compromised “by the excessive burden on his shoulders.” On the right of the political spectrum, 46% agreed that he should not also hold the defense portfolio, while 47% did not see a problem with the scenario.
With regard to the situation on the Israel-Gaza border, 76% of the Jewish public is sharply critical of the way the government is dealing with the Palestinians’ ongoing struggle – up from 56.5% in June 2018. Among Arab Israelis the rate of disapproval has reached 82%. Support for the IDF’s handling of the situation has fallen slightly, with Jewish Israelis, showing 67% approval rating, down from 76% in June 2018.
As for achievements along the Gaza border 33% of Jewish Israelis believe that the Palestinians have scored greater success, while 21% think that the Israeli side has won greater success and 28% think that neither side has had any significant success so far.