A public opinion poll held this week suggests the Israeli public is ready for a political upheaval.
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The poll, conducted for Haaretz by Dialog, under the supervision on Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs, suggests that a new party headed by former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) would get the largest number of Knesset seats if elections were held this week.
The poll did not say who would be the new party’s chairman.
The virtual list beats Likud by one Knesset seat, 23 to 22. It draws to its ranks five seats from Likud and seven from Yesh Atid, out of the 20 seats the previous poll predicted for that party. It also takes quite a few votes from the two rightist parties Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu.
The new list does not take any votes away from Zionist Union, which loses nine Knesset seats, plunging to 15 in both the previous and current polls.
According to this survey, if elections were held now Likud would not only cease being the largest party, but, more significantly, the right wing bloc of Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu would lose a total of seven Knesset seats, getting 37 instead of 44. The ultra-Orthodox bloc of 14 MKs would not give Netanyahu enough mandates to form a majority.
In contrast, the new party would be able to form a coalition with all the parties, except for the Joint Arab List, Meretz and possibly Habayit Hayehudi.
The previous poll predicted that Kulanu, headed by Kahlon, would get seven Knesset seats in an election. A prospective list led by Sa’ar, Ashkenazi and Kahlon, with its 23 seats, gets 16 more than the seven predicted for Kahlon’s party in the earlier survey.
Kahlon and Sa’ar are close friends. They would classify themselves as right-center of the political map, or “soft right.” Ashkenazi has not yet joined the political fray, but as far as is known, he leans more to the left than the former two.
There is also the question of ego: Which of the three would be No. 1 and the party’s candidate for prime minister.