Netanyahu’s popularity is at an all-time low among legislators in his own administration as well as the relatives of Hamas detainees.
Liban, Beirut — Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is less popular than ever as the relatives of Israeli prisoners imprisoned in Gaza march on Saturday from Tel Aviv to Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.
According to a study conducted on November 14, just 4% of Israeli Jews support Netanyahu, and both his opponents and long-standing friends are pressing for his resignation when the present conflict is over.
Khaled Elgindy, a Palestinian-Israeli affairs specialist at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera that because he oversaw the worst intelligence security breach in Israel’s history, “he’s very vulnerable, more than he’s ever been in his political career.” “Much less has captivated prime ministers than that.”
Netanyahu has faced criticism ever since he emerged victorious in November of last year and ushered in the most right-wing administration in the nation’s history. Over his attempts to implement judicial changes, protests have dogged Netanyahu’s most recent tenure. But analysts claim that October 7 has significantly diminished even the support that Netanyahu previously had.
According to Zachary Lockman, a New York University scholar on Palestine and Israel, “I suspect there’s a lot of discontent with his leadership of the government, even within his own party,” as mentioned to Al Jazeera.
Ninety-four percent of Israelis think that Netanyahu’s administration has some responsibility for the events of October 7, when 1,200 people were killed when Hamas gunmen breached border walls and stormed southern Israel.
In the days following the assault, the majority of Israelis held the view that Netanyahu ought to step down once the conflict was over, and their dissatisfaction has only increased. The majority of the criticism leveled against Netanyahu has been focused on his seeming lack of desire to release the over 200 prisoners that Hamas and other armed organizations are holding captive in Gaza.
Israel discovered the bodies of at least two of the detainees on Friday. Through international mediation efforts spearheaded by Qatar and other countries, four detainees have been freed.To yet, however, Netanyahu has turned down a more substantial agreement for a short-term truce in return for the release of additional prisoners. He declared that he would only think about ending the attack on Gaza if all captives had been released. According to reports, Palestinian organizations proposed a three-day truce in exchange for the release of at least fifty captives; however, Netanyahu is said to have rejected the offer.
Thus far, US President Joe Biden has backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opposition to a ceasefire, in spite of mounting global outcry and disagreement within the US Democratic Party.”The United States has fully supported them, but the Biden administration’s tolerance may eventually wear thin,” Lockman stated. “Ceasefire demands are growing, not only in Europe but also in the United States.”
Internal party strife
Netanyahu might be able to keep Biden on board, but his own support is dwindling.
The mayor of the Likud-affiliated town of Netivot, which is located around 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) from Gaza, Yehiel Zohar, told the Times of Israel that “there will be a large group of people in Likud that will change the existing situation” when the fighting ends.
Some Likud party members are so enraged with Netanyahu that they are considering leaving the party completely. On live television, Sdot Negev Regional Council head Tamir Idan tore up his Likud membership card. He expressed his frustration with Netanyahu’s administration’s lack of backing.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, refuses to respond to us. Idan informed the Times of Israel that [Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich sends his subordinates. Some don’t show up at all. There is no function to this government.
Right-wing publication Israel Hayom, which frequently supports Netanyahu, demanded of him in the media that he “take responsibility and accept that the buck stops with you.”
The extreme right, which has supported Netanyahu up to this point while using the attention on Gaza to further its aggressions in the West Bank, appears to be the only thing holding Netanyahu’s cabinet together.
Elgindy stated, “For Ben Gvir and Smotrich, the status quo is very good.” “Everyone is focused on Gaza so they can do anything they want in the West Bank, while Netanyahu is fighting for his life. In order to carry out their extreme objective, the settlers and soldiers are raging, and not many people are paying attention.
However, even there are fissures appearing. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir both criticized the Netanyahu war cabinet’s decision to approve the entry of two gasoline trucks into Gaza per day on Friday. Activists, non-profits, and others have characterized this as nothing more than a symbolic gesture for a population of 2.3 million people.
adversaries prepared to attack
Over the years, Netanyahu has also amassed a large number of adversaries. While many leaders are positioning themselves to criticize Netanyahu, not many have offered to step up and lead in his stead in the meantime. One contender, the former defense minister Benny Gantz, has been more popular as Netanyahu’s has declined.
As a member of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, Gantz also chastised the prime minister for his October 7 statement in which he attributed the Hamas attack to Israel’s military and intelligence agencies.
“He has long harbored dreams of [becoming prime minister] and positioned himself as the rightful leader at the center of the Israeli political spectrum, able to bring the left, right, and center together,” Lockman added. Additionally, Gantz is “free of some of the many burdens that Netanyahu carries,” including the prime minister’s involvement in corrupt practices.
“Who is more suitable for the position of premier, Netanyahu or Gantz?” was the question posed to participants in the poll on November 14. Gantz defeated Israel’s incumbent prime minister by a margin of 22 percentage points. Though many of the prime minister’s detractors declined, Gantz opted to join Netanyahu’s team after October, thus it is unclear if he can unseat the prime minister.The head of the center-left opposition, Yair Lapid, was one of their opponents. On Wednesday, he declared that Netanyahu need to be replaced by “another Likud prime minister.” Lapid concurs with Netanyahu that Hamas must be destroyed, despite criticism from Israeli and Palestinian leaders that the idea is pointless.
Elgindy commented, “It’s interesting that people are starting to ask him to resign now instead of after the war.” “Perhaps that represents an acceptance that the battle will not be over anytime soon. Israel’s goals are quite vague and open-ended, and based on how they’ve stated them, they’re probably unreachable.
According to Bloomberg, the Israeli economy is losing over $260 million a day to the war effort. Three hundred eminent Israeli and international economists have urged Netanyahu’s cabinet to “immediately come to your senses.” The public’s support for him is growing, and as the number of casualties in Gaza rises, so does the worldwide backing he had immediately following October 7.
According to Lockman, “the war will not end with the great victory that Israelis have been led to believe.” “And when that disappointment sets in, you know, somebody is going to have to pay the political price for this.”
However, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel has made political comebacks before, most notably last year when he was already facing corruption allegations.
“This is definitely disastrous for him politically, in my opinion. Elgindy remarked, “I don’t see how he survives this politically. “October 7th and the hostages have angered people, and he was already unpopular before October 7th.”
Elgindy said, “But if anyone could engineer a path, it would be him,” after pausing for a moment.