Labor party leader Isaac Herzog speaks as Hatnua head Tzipi Livni listens at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion, January 7, 2015.
(photo credit: COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT STUDENT ASSOCIATION)
Israelis overwhelmingly want to see Israel go in a different direction following the March 17 election, according to a Panels Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and its Hebrew sister publication Maariv Sof Hashavua on Wednesday and Thursday.
Seventy-two percent of respondents said they wanted a change, 20% did not, and 8% had no opinion. A majority said the country was going in the wrong direction on socioeconomic issues and international relations. Asked if they want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue to head the government, 48% said no and 41% said yes.
The Zionist Union took a commanding lead over the Likud in the poll, 25 Knesset seats to 21, doubling its two seat lead from last week’s poll.
Yesh Atid and the Joint (Arab) List are set to win 13 each, Bayit Yehudi 11, Kulanu 10, Shas seven, United Torah Judaism six, five each for Meretz and Yahad, and only four for Yisrael Beytenu, according to the survey. Twelve percent of respondents were undecided.
Netanyahu said he had no doubt he would win. Asked whether he would quit politics if he lost, he told the Post, “I am not dealing with retirement. I am dealing with victory.”
Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog reacted to the positive poll results by saying he would replace Netanyahu and ruling out a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office with him. He accused the prime minister of panicking.
“Netanyahu failed, and he admits his failures,” Herzog told Channel 2. “I plan to replace him. I am focused on winning the elections and bringing hope to the State of Israel.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid predicted that his party would once again surprise people on Election Day.
Speaking at a party rally in Holon attended by some 2,000 people, Lapid said Netanyahu had to be replaced on Tuesday.
“I don’t deal with political forecasts or political analysis, but I know the Yesh Atid street,” he said. “We’ve been through this once before and so we can identify it this time, as well. It’s even stronger than last time [in the January 2013 election]. It happened under the radar again, and again exactly at the right time it’s exploding with a force that no one could have predicted.”
Former president Shimon Peres on Thursday announced his endorsement of Herzog to be the next prime minister, calling him “a cool-headed leader who has maintained his honesty and is full of responsibility and dedication to the Israeli public.”
“I am convinced that Isaac Herzog is worthy to be prime minster and that he will be a leader who knows how to bridge the gaps and unite Israeli society with the glue of solidarity and hope,” Peres said.
The Likud said in response to the endorsement that “Peres is obviously a typical left-winger who supports Buji [Herzog] and [Zionist Union co-leader] Tzipi [Livni].
“Peres is the architect of the Oslo Accords, he was an ardent supporter of the disengagement [from Gaza] and he supports withdrawing from Judea and Samaria,” the Likud said.
The poll found that 58% of respondents opposed a national-unity government and 22% supported it.
Nearly half the respondents said they would even prefer another election to a unity government.
The large poll of 1,305 respondents representing a statistical sample of the Israeli population has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Daniel Clinton contributed to this report.