Netanyahu Keeps Leading in Polls, and Some Israelis Long For His Return
07:47 GMT 17.03.2022 (Updated: 17:25 GMT 15.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Maya AlleruzzoFormer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to right-wing opposition party members, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021.
© AP Photo / Maya Alleruzzo
A recent survey showed that the current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remains a weak politician, and if elections were held today, he would get just seven out of the 120 seats in parliament. The former PM, meanwhile, would get 34 spots in the Knesset.
Although now he is head of Israel's opposition, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains one of the strongest figures on the Israeli political scene.
A recent poll -- conducted by Israel's channel 12 -- revealed that if elections were held today, Netanyahu would get 34 out of 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, three sport more than what he garnished last March.
Long List of Complaints
Hanaa Mattar, an Arab Israeli from the northern city of Haifa, says he has been a Netanyahu loyalist for years and he believes that most people yearn to see him in power again.
"We have never had such high costs of living here. Never did we have shawarma [traditional Middle Eastern dish of meat wrapped in lafa bread - ed.] costing nearly $20. Never did we need to spend so much on food, fuel and electricity."
These complaints are not ungrounded. Israel has always been considered one of the world's most expensive countries. Prices in the Jewish State started climbing during the tenure of Netanyahu. But a significant spike has been registered since last June, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his coalition came to power.
Tel Aviv has officially become the priciest city on Darth. Prices of basic products and fuel have gone through the roof and that has pushed thousands into the streets to protest against the high costs of living.
The high costs of living are far from the only concern among the public. Another issue that stirs frustration is high crime rates, especially among Israeli Arabs, and the government's inability to improve the situation.
"The current government allocated billions of dollars to the Arab sector to tackle the unprecedented rates of crime. Almost one year down the line, nothing has been achieved, and I don't see how this situation will ever improve," lamented Mattar.
The 40-year-old man has a long list of other complaints about the government. He is worried about Israel's international standing, the threat emanating from Iran and the inability of the Israeli politicians to stand firm in front of the United States that's about to sign a "suicidal agreement" with the Islamic Republic, "enabling it to pursue nuclear weapons".
He is also worried about domestic affairs, and especially the still-raging coronavirus pandemic that has largely been forgotten due to Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
Before Bennett came to power, he bragged that he would put an end to the health crisis that was triggered by COVID-19. Reality has proven him wrong, and in early 2022 Israel went through the fifth wave of the pandemic, registering unprecedented numbers of daily patients.
Authorities were struggling to cope with the situation. Reports have suggested that hospitals were on the verge of collapse; medical staff were begging for help but the government dragged its feet and failed to cope with the crisis.
Its polices have backfired. In January a Channel 12 survey found that 63 percent of Israelis believed Bennett and his government have failed to tackle COVID-19.
A similar poll showed he would only get seven seats in the Israeli Knesset if elections took place today.
"I know a lot of Arab Israelis, who voted for anyone but Netanyahu because they believed they would bring a change and improve our lives," said Mattar.
"Now they see that these were only illusions. Many have realised that they made a mistake, and I believe that if elections are held today, they won't hesitate to vote for Netanyahu," he added.