A recent poll conducted by the Midgam Institute has revealed a remarkable shift in Israeli public opinion, with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett now seen as more suitable for the position than current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The survey found that 36% of respondents believe Bennett is better suited for the role of Prime Minister, while only 28% favored Netanyahu. It marks the first time Bennett has surpassed Netanyahu in perceived compatibility for the nation’s highest office.

During his tenure from June 2021 to June 2022, Bennett achieved notable successes, particularly in his swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Israel was among the first countries to secure a large number of vaccine doses and rapidly implement a nationwide vaccination program.

Furthermore, Bennett’s ability to form a diverse coalition government that included an Arab party was viewed by some as a positive step towards political inclusivity and a departure from Netanyahu’s long-standing Likud party dominance.

When compared to National Unity Party chairman Benny Gantz, both he and Netanyahu received equal support at 32%. Earlier this month, Gantz announced his resignation from Netanyahu’s war cabinet due to disagreements over the handling of the Gaza war.

In a hypothetical matchup between opposition leader Yair Lapid and Netanyahu, 28% believe Lapid would be better suited as Prime Minister, while 33% favored Netanyahu. The incumbent also outperformed Economy Minister Nir Barkat (29% vs. 12%) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (30% vs. 15%). However, Bennett managed to edge out Gantz (27% vs. 25%) among those surveyed.

A significant majority (63%) of Israelis rated Netanyahu’s performance during the war as poor. Gallant also received low marks, with 46% believing his performance was inadequate, although 45% thought he performed well. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir fared even worse, with 68% and 65% of respondents, respectively, giving them poor ratings.

In contrast, 50% believed IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi’s performance was good, while an impressive 74% approved of IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari’s performance.

Despite Netanyahu’s waning popularity, some analysts suggest that the prime minister is not politically dead and buried, arguing that his rivals’ approval numbers may have more to do with growing unrest rather than their own strengths.

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