Netanyahu's Approval Sinks After Gaza Ceasefire

Netanyahu's Approval Sinks After Gaza Ceasefire

A new Israeli poll shows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s job approval rating has suffered dramatically in the wake of the Gaza ceasefire, which many Israelis felt was premature. At the same time, another poll shows that Israel’s right-wing parties would gain if new elections were held now.

The poll of Israelis, which was conducted for the Hebrew-language Channel 2 news site and reported by The Times Of Israel, found Netanyahu’s approval rating plummeted to 32%, with 59% saying they were not satisfied with him.

The same survey showed that 54% of respondents were opposed to the ceasefire, and 37% supported it.

A solid majority – 59% – do not believe Israel won the war against Hamas, while 29% believe it did, mirroring Netanyahu’s popularity numbers. Israeli dissatisfaction with the war and its ending extended only to the political level; the public’s satisfaction with the army’s performance stood at 83%.

The poll numbers represent a steep decline for Netanyahu and a steady deterioration over the course of the war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. On August 21, his approval rating was 55%; on August 5, his approval rating stood at 63%. On July 23, shortly after the start of the ground operation in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas’s “terror tunnels,” Netanyahu’s approval rating was 82%.

Netanyahu has faced strong criticism from across the political spectrum, especially from those chastising him for an apparent unwillingness to take more decisive action against Hamas and guarantee security to residents of southern Israel near the Gaza border.

Much of that criticism has come from Israel’s right wing, which has seen a rise in popularity as a result of the war.

A new Haaretz/Dialogue poll released Thursday and reported by Israel National News shows Israel’s traditional right-wing bloc of parties would increase its hold on Israel’s 120-seat Knesset from the current 61 seats to 69.

The biggest winner from the war may turn out to be the nationalist religious Jewish Home party, led by Naftali Bennett, who was openly critical of the decision to agree to the ceasefire at this stage in the fighting without first dealing a heavier blow to Hamas or gaining concessions. According to the poll, if elections took place now the Jewish Home would be the Knesset’s second-largest party, up from the 12 seats it currently holds to 17.

Interestingly, however, the survey also showed a slight increase in support for Netanyahu’s Likud party, despite the deep unpopularity of his decision to accept a ceasefire with Hamas. In a previous poll, Likud was predicted to receive 25 seats, and the poll shows that edging up to 26.