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Israelis prefer Bennett over Netanyahu as PM, poll shows

Israelis favour Naftali Bennett as PM over Benjamin Netanyahu: poll
3 min read
23 June, 2024
The polling also saw respondents share their opinions of government ministers, military figures and Israel's war on Gaza.
Naftali Bennett was previously prime minister in 2021 [Getty]

A new poll shows that former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is polling better than current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amid rising anti-government sentiment.

The Channel 12 poll asked people whether they preferred Bennett over Netanyahu to be Prime minister.

Bennett had formed a coalition government with Israeli politician Yair Lapid in 2021, ousting Netanyahu from government following elections the same year.

According to the poll, Bennett was placed at 36 percent compared to Netanyahu's 28 percent. Thirty-one percent said they'd prefer neither person, while the remainder said they did not know.

Bennett's polling on Channel 12 comes amid rising anti-government sentiment across Israel over Netanyahu's failures in recovering Israeli captives held in Gaza and for security failures leading up to Hamas' 7 October surprise attack on southern Israel.

Bennett, a right-wing Jewish nationalist and former tech millionaire, previously served as prime minister and has a history of controversial statements on Palestinians.

In 2013, the then cabinet member reportedly advocated for killing Palestinian prisoners rather than releasing them.

"If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them," Bennett was quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth as saying.

When challenged on the legality of such a measure, Bennett then reportedly boasted: "I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

Bennett has also long advocated for Israeli settlers, declaring in 2021 that no Palestinian state would be formed under his watch as premier.

Growing anti-government sentiment

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets demanding the recovery of captives and early elections.

A number of other polls were conducted by Channel 12 on the approval ratings of other members of the Israeli cabinet, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

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Gallant scored 45 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval, with Ben Gvir scoring 68 percent disapproval and Smotrich scoring 65 percent disapproval.

Additionally, a majority of respondents, 56 percent, said they did not want ultra-Orthodox parties, which includes Smotrich and Ben-Gvir's parties, in government.

A majority of 51 percent of respondents admitted that it was unlikely that Netanyahu's "total victory" over Hamas was attainable as opposed to 36 percent who said it was.

The poll comes after Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari told Israel's Channel 13 that Hamas cannot be eradicated.

"Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It's rooted I the hearts of the people - anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong," he said. He also stressed the need to find an alternative.

Israel's war on Gaza, which has been ongoing since 7 October, has killed 37,598 Palestinians, with a further 86,032 wounded and much of the enclave in rubble and under conditions of famine.