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Poll: More Israelis prefer Gantz than Netanyahu as PM in head-to-head matchup

More Israelis prefer National Unity party leader Benny Gantz as prime minister than incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu if paired against each other in a head-to-head matchup, according to a television poll released Friday.

Asked who is better suited to be premier, 38 percent of respondents to the Channel 12 survey said Gantz and 31% said Netanyahu. Another quarter said neither while the remaining 6% said they didn’t know.

The poll also asked who between Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid is better suited to be prime minister, with each picking up 32% of respondents. Twenty-nine percent said neither and 7% said they were unsure.

The survey came at the end of a politically turbulent week that began with Netanyahu announcing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s dismissal after the latter publicly called for the government to halt its planned overhaul of the judiciary.

The move further galvanized protesters who have taken to the streets at least twice a week for nearly three months and prompted a declaration of a general strike, which was called off after Netanyahu said he would temporarily pause the judicial legislation to allow for negotiations with the opposition with the aim of securing broad consensus for any changes.

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Despite saying he would axe Gallant, Netanyahu has yet to send him a formal letter of dismissal, leaving the defense minister in limbo as he remains in the post.

The Channel 12 survey asked whether Netanyahu should fire Gallant, with over 67% saying no and 17% yes. When narrowed down to supporters of Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, a majority — 57% — said no and 23% said yes.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrives at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Additionally, respondents were polled on whether they believe Netanyahu is open to true dialogue on the judicial shakeup plans, as he has repeatedly insisted. Sixty-one percent said they do not believe him while 29% thought he’s being genuine.

Earlier this week, the network and the Kan public broadcaster each released polls that found the ruling coalition would lose its majority if elections were held today. Gantz’s party was the big winner in both surveys, which forecasted opposition factions that composed most of the previous government would be able to form a coalition.