Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with Ehud Barak at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem June 8, 2009..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More than four times as many people believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fit to be prime minister than former prime minister Ehud Barak, according to a Midgam poll broadcast on Channel 2 Saturday night.
The poll of 508 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population was taken Thursday, after Channel 2 aired a portion of an interview with Barak in which he hinted at a comeback and claimed he was more ready and qualified to lead Israel than all other candidates around, including Netanyahu.
In the interview, Barak quoted a recent poll that he said found that a majority of secular Israelis prefer him to Netanyahu. He said that, among the general population, less than 40% said they preferred Netanyahu and 35% said they did not know whom they preferred – even though Netanyahu is prime minister and he is just a private citizen.
When the Channel 2 poll asked the general population who is most fit to be prime minister, 29% said Netanyahu; 14% Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid; 8% Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett; 7% Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay; seven percent Barak; and 35% said none of the above.
Asked who was most fit to head Labor, 33% said Gabbay; 18% Barak; and 49% said none of the above.
The public expressed skepticism that Barak would indeed make a comeback, with 44% saying he would not; 26% saying he would; and 30% admitting that they do not know.
In portions of the Channel 2 interview aired for the first time on Saturday night, Barak said he has felt increasing affection from the public on the street over the past year since he started talking to the public regularly on social media. He said he posts on Twitter late at night when he has jet lag, referring to his late-night tweets as “Trumping.”
Barak defended his use of strong language in his attacks on Netanyahu, saying the Left has been too timid in its discourse, and that if Netanyahu is guilty of any of the acts he has been accused of, he is unfit to be prime minister.
“I have more empathy for Netanyahu than the people closest to him,” Barak said. “I have seen him in the toughest circumstances. It’s not personal.
He has been dragged into an uncomfortable situation in which he cannot function as prime minister.”
Barak said the evidence against Netanyahu, who is the subject of several police investigations, “screams to heaven,” but he was worried that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan “do not have the spine to indict a sitting prime minister.”
Regarding Gabbay, Barak said the Labor leader was wrong to quote Netanyahu about the Left forgetting what it means to be Jewish and say Netanyahu is correct.
Other than that, he said Gabbay has been doing his job professionally and that he was proud that he was one of the first to believe Gabbay would win the Labor leadership race “along with Gabbay’s mother.”
Barak revealed that he has spoken with other potential Knesset candidates who are on the sidelines and said the right time for them to enter politics was only weeks before the next general election.
The Likud responded, saying, “the public sees Barak’s attempted comeback as pathetic” and calling Barak “the worst prime minister in Israel’s history.”