With violence on the Lebanese border and worries about Iran’s nuclear program high on voters’ minds, the conservative leader’s reputation for being strong on security helped to raise his approval rating to 51 percent from 46 percent in January.

The same monthly opinion poll, conducted on Sunday and published in the left-wing Haaretz daily, forecast Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party would win 25 of parliament’s 120 seats in the March 17 election against 23 for the center Zionist Union. Last month it gave Likud 22 seats and Zionist Union 23.

The latest figures showed him on course to build a governing coalition of parties from the right, far-right and Orthodox Jewish blocs and return to power for a fourth term, solidifying his position as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister since David Ben-Gurion.

“It seems Netanyahu has the best chances,” said Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at Hebrew University.