Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party closed the gap on MK Benny Gantz's National Unity faction, with both parties winning 27 seats each if an election was held today, according to a new Maariv poll published on Friday morning.
In the first poll conducted by Dr. Menachem Lazar at Panels Politics Institute since the launch of Operation Shield and Arrow in Gaza, the coalition's leading faction enjoyed a two-seat rise from last's week poll, a rebound which could be attributed to several military achievements made during the operation under the guidance of Likud MK and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
National Unity, on the other hand, lost four seats from last week's record-setting high of 31 in Maariv's previous poll.
Gantz ahead of Netanyahu in public perception
The former defense minister leads Netanyahu in public perception of suitability to the role of prime minister, despite Netanyahu recording an improvement of 5% to 38%, compared to Gantz's 41%, which remained steady, Panels Politics found.
Elsewhere within the coalition, the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) factions of Shas and United Torah Judaism both remained unchanged from the previous poll result, earning 10 and eight Knesset seats respectively.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionist Party also stood still at five seats won as per the Maariv poll, while National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit weakened by one seat from last week's poll down to four, bringing the coalition's total number of seats to only 54, according to the poll.
Yair Lapid trails behind in third, Meretz surges to six seats
In the opposition, Yesh Atid led by opposition head Yair Lapid continued to trail behind significantly as the third biggest party, with 17 seats won.
The biggest surprise in the poll came in the shape of the left-wing party Meretz, which gained six seats in the poll despite not being in the Knesset after dropping out in the November 2022 election. In contrast, MK Merav Michaeli's Labor Party again failed to cross the electoral threshold.
The Arab-Israeli factions of Hadash-Ta'al and Ra'am remained steady on six and four Knesset seats won respectively, bringing the opposition's total number of seats to a majority of 66 mandates.
Israelis mostly trust the military actions taken by the prime minister as part of Operation Shield and Arrow, the Maariv poll also found. 55% said they trust Netanyahu's judgment, while 39% said they do not. Only 6% had no opinion on the subject.