Photo Credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with members of the War Cabinet, including Benny Gantz (on the right), October 18, 2023.

Things haven’t looked this bad for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party since 2006 when they were reduced to 12 mandates in the 17th Knesset. Ironically, that defeat followed Netanyahu’s stellar salvation of the Israeli economy as Finance Minister, a feat that earned him the furious hate of millions of Israelis who were hit by it.

Nowadays it appears that Netanyahu and his party are once again the target of derision by many Israelis, including Likud voters, who blame the PM for the tragedy of October 7. One can go blue in the face trying to argue that Netanyahu only embraced the policy regarding Hamas that was advocated by his security apparatus. One can point to many other culprits, including Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, who forged the “conseptzia” suggesting Hamas can be handled with increased work permits in Israel for Gazans and suitcases loaded with cash from Qatar. Netanyahu was in charge on 10/7, goes the popular argument, and must bear the brunt of the blame.


Which brings us to the shocking Maariv survey of Friday morning that shows MK Benny Gantz leading Netanyahu 48% to 28% in the category of who is best fit for the job of prime minister.

But wait, there’s more: if national elections were held today, this is how the votes would spread:

National Union (Gantz) – 40
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) – 15
Meretz – (Gal-On) 6

Likud (Netanyahu) – 18
Shas (Aryeh Deri) – 8
United Torah Judaism (Goldknopf) – 7
Otzma Yehudit (Ben Gvir) – 5
Religious Zionism (Smotrich) – 5

Israel Beiteinu (Liberman) – 7
Hadash Ta’al (Odeh) – 5
Ra’am (Abbas) – 4

The only comfort for Netanyahu et al stems from the fact that the poll used a minimal sampling size of 510, both Jews and Arabs. Conducted on October 18-19, the survey comes with a maximum sampling error of 4.3%, which could mean some fewer votes for Gantz and a few more for Netanyahu. But after all is said and done, these results are jarring.

At this point, the coalition is down to 43 mandates, assuming there will be no defections. And Gantz can easily put together a government that won’t need to rely on the Arab parties, a move that under today’s circumstances would not be received well. Indeed, Gantz can put together a 61-mandate majority government with Yesh Atid and Meretz. They won’t even need Avigdor Liberman.

Oh, and, before I forget, Labor still hovers around 2%. It appears that the Israeli left is not done punishing Chairperson Merav Michaeli for her betrayal last November of the sister party, Meretz.

Respondents were asked if they supported an all-out ground operation in Gaza. 65% said yes, 21% no, 14% aren’t sure.

The numbers are significantly different regarding an all-out attack on Hezbollah. 51% are against it, only 30% are for it, and 19% are not sure.

Finally, and that should probably be the item we keep in mind when we try to fall asleep tonight: asked if they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the State of Israel, 65% said they were optimistic, 25% pessimistic, and 10% were not sure.

You know something? It could be worse…


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David writes news at