Israel Elections: Lapid narrows gap with Netanyahu following Gaza op - poll

Operation Breaking Dawn had little impact on the state of play between blocs, three new polls published on Monday found.

 Israeli foreign minister and Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid walks next to Head of opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu at the assembly hall for a special session in memory of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, on November 8, 2021.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli foreign minister and Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid walks next to Head of opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu at the assembly hall for a special session in memory of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, on November 8, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has narrowed the gap between himself and opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu in terms of suitability as prime minister, a new election poll published by N12 on Monday evening found.

Netanyahu still leads in public perception, with 42% saying he is the best fit for the role of prime minister. Lapid narrowed the gap following Operation Breaking Dawn, with 31%, according to the poll.

The gap is wider when Netanyahu is compared with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, with 23% approving of Gantz as prime minister, compared with 43% for Netanyahu.

Lapid, along with Gantz, received high approval ratings for their roles in the Gaza operation. Overall, 68% of poll respondents, including 70% of voters who identify with the Right, agreed Lapid’s handling of the operation was satisfactory. Gantz’s overall approval rating was at 73%, with more right-wing voters (77%) expressing support for Gantz’s work as defense minister during the operation than left-wing voters (70%).

Netanyahu weakened after Gaza operation

In terms of Knesset seats, Operation Breaking Dawn had little impact on the state of play between the current coalition bloc and Netanyahu's bloc, according to all polls published on Monday by the three major Israeli television channels.

According to the polls, if the elections were held today, Netanyahu's bloc would fall short of a 61-seat majority, with the former prime minister's right-wing bloc standing at 59 mandates in all three polls. Likud is also set to retain its place as the largest faction in the Knesset, with the party gaining 33-34 seats. 

This represents a small drop-off in Netanyahu's poll numbers, which had his bloc winning 61 seats in polls conducted before Operation Breaking Dawn.

 Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Prime Minister Yair Lapid to receive a briefing on the ongoing Operation Breaking Dawn, August 7, 2022 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO) Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Prime Minister Yair Lapid to receive a briefing on the ongoing Operation Breaking Dawn, August 7, 2022 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Meanwhile, the prime minister's Yesh Atid party is comfortably in second place with 22-24 seats earned, according to the polls.

Lower down the list, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's Zionist Spirit faction failed to cross the electoral threshold in all but Channel 13's poll, where it gained four Knesset seats. Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar's Blue and White: The New Hope continues to receive disappointing poll numbers, with the unified party winning 11-12 seats, according to the three polls.

On the Right, a unified faction of MK Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionists party and MK Itamar Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party would win 10-11 seats, while Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) remain steady in all three polls with seven-to-eight and seven seats won, respectively.

Current coalition factions did not see a dramatic change in their poll numbers following the Gaza operation, with Labor winning only five seats in all three polls published on Monday evening while currently leaderless Meretz stand just above the electoral threshold with 4-5 Knesset seats, along with MK Mansour Abbas' Ra'am party.