Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains popular, according to a new poll released Sunday by the TRI polling firm. In addition, voters said they did not believe that last week's elimination of a top Hezbollah terrorists and an Iranian general was a campaign gambit by the Prime Minister to focus attention on security issues, versus the economic issues his rivals are striving to portray as the central ones in the March 17 election.
In answer to the question “who would you rather see as prime minister,” 46% said they would choose Netanyahu over his Labor rival Yitzchak Herzog, whom only 33% said they preferred. That number was an improvement for Herzog, who last week was preferred by only 29% of the electorate, but the rise does not necessarily foretell a trend, as Herzog has been treading water in the low 30% region on this question for weeks. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has been straddling the mid to upper 40% range during the period.
Regarding the IDF's elimination last week of Jihad Mughniyeh, said to be Hezbollah's “commander of the Golan Heights area,” along with a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, and Iranian general Abu Ali Tabtabai, 42.2% of Israelis said they did not believe that Netanyahu had staged the attack to put himself in a better light with voters, as a recently-floated conspiracy theory claims. Only 26.8% said there was a “definite” (12.2%) or “possible” (14.6%) connection.
Among religious voters, Likud supporters, and adults, nearly three quarters said that there was no connection.
The first political figure to raise the theory that the operation was timed for the elections was Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Galant, from the Kulanu list. Galant retracted the accusation shortly afterward.