Netanyahu’s popularity plummets amid Gaza war, future as Israeli PM uncertain

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may get the war he wants to ‘eliminate’ Hamas fighters from Palestine’s Gaza, killing thousands in the process, however, once the animosity of the Israel-Hamas war dies down, Netanyahu’s future as the premiere of Israel seems bleak. 

A popularity vote taken on 14 November in Israel showed that Netanyahu’s popularity had dropped to a mere 4% amid the war with Hamas fighters. 

Both of Netanyahu’s opponents and traditional allies are calling for him to resign once the current war ends.

Failure to bring back hostages from Hamas

Even as US and Qatar work to broker a ceasefire, or a hostage deal, PM Netanyahu has only refused to attest to any such claims and has said he would not stop unless Hamas is ‘eliminated’. 

This of course has only earned him the ire of Israeli Jews back home. 

Further, in Israel, 94 percent of the population believes Netanyahu’s government is at least partially to blame for the events of October 7, when Hamas fighters broke through border fences and attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, reports Al Jazeera

On Friday, Israel found the bodies of at least two of the captives. Four captives have been released through mediation efforts led by Qatar and other nations.

Netanyahu’s own base is fraying

The frustration at Netanyahu is boiling over to the point some are even quitting the Likud party altogether. Tamir Idan, the head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, tore up his Likud membership card on live television. He said he was frustrated at the lack of support from Netanyahu’s government.

In the media, Israel Hayom, a right-wing newspaper that often backs Netanyahu, called for him to, “Take responsibility and accept that the buck stops with you.”

The only thread holding Netanyahu’s government together seems to be coming from the far right, which, until now, has continued to back Netanyahu, while taking advantage of the focus on Gaza to continue its aggressions in the West Bank.

Israel’s opponents ready to take opportunity

Netanyahu has also accrued plenty of enemies over the years. These figures are lining up to take shots at Netanyahu, but few have volunteered to take over for him in the interim. As Netanyahu’s popularity has fallen, one rival, the former Defence Minister Benny Gantz, has seen his rise.

Gantz is also a member of Netanyahu’s war cabinet and criticised the prime minister after October 7, when he blamed Israel’s intelligence services and military for the Hamas attack.

The war effort is costing the Israeli economy about $260m daily, according to Bloomberg, and 300 prominent Israeli and foreign economists urged Netanyahu’s government to “immediately come to your senses”. Public support is mounting against him and the international support he carried early after October 7 continues to erode as the death toll in Gaza mounts.

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Updated: 20 Nov 2023, 10:27 PM IST

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