In Brief: Public approval of covid response rises but anti-Bibi bloc ekes out majority

Merav Michaeli. Photo: Ron Kedmi, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A left-right coalition of parties opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu remaining as prime minister has eked out a narrow one-seat majority in the latest Channel 12 poll. The survey also showed voter approval of the government’s handling of the covid pandemic rising as over four million Israelis received at least one shot of the vaccine. The poll indicated that Netanyahu’s Likud party will take first place with 29 seats, with the centre-left Yesh Atid party on 18. Likud’s ultra-Orthodox allies Shas and UTJ raised the pro-Netanyahu bloc to 44 seats with an additional five seats coming from the far-right Religious Zionism alliance. However, even the addition of Naftali Bennett’s pro-settler Yamina party, which hasn’t committed to support Netanyahu, raises the prime minister’s total to only 59 seats in the 120-member Knesset. On 61 seats, the diverse coalition of parties opposed to Netanyahu range from former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party to Labor, the left-wing Meretz party and the Arab-Israeli Joint List. The poll offered good news for new Labor leader, Merav Michaeli (pictured), showing her party winning six seats. Until her leadership election victory last month, Labor had consistently failed to cross the threshold. Meretz and the centrist Blue and White party, which have both hovered close to the threshold in recent polls, were each predicted to win four seats. The poll showed that 47 percent of Israelis have a positive view of how the government has handled the pandemic, with 50 percent disapproving. Last month, the same survey showed approval at 39 percent and disapproval at 59 percent. However, it also found that over two-thirds of voters – down from 72 percent last month – have a negative view of the government’s handling of the economic fallout from covid. 
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