Israeli Far-right Party Surges in Election Poll

The right-wing block would have a ruling majority and the Labor Party wouldn't even make it to the Knesset

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Yamina head Naftali Bennett during a Knesset session, August 5, 2020.
Yamina head Naftali Bennett during a Knesset session, August 5, 2020.Credit: Adina Wolman / Knesset Spokesperson's Office

A new election poll shows a surge for Yamina that could bring the bloc of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties to a ruling majority, continuing a trend seen in recent polling as the months-old coalition deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatens to fall apart.

The poll released on Friday by Channel 12 News showed Yamina, the pro-settler party headed by Naftali Bennett, with 16 seats – more than doubling its current seven seats. This followed polls released this week that showed Yamina with 19 seats, according to a Channel 13 poll, and 15, according to one by the Kan public broadcaster.

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Channel 12’s poll showed Netanyahu’s Likud party with 31 seats, significantly leading over Yesh Atid, which would be the second-largest party with 18 seats. These numbers are similar to those in the other polls this week, with Channel 13 showing Likud with 29 seats and Yesh Atid with 19, and Kan showing Likud with 30 seats and Yesh Atid with 17.

Channel 12’s poll projected the Joint List alliance of Arab parties as the third-largest party with 15 seats, with Gantz’s Kahol Lavan crashing to 11 seats, and Shas and United Torah Judaism each having eight seats. Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, was predicted to get seven seats, and the left-wing Meretz party six, with the once powerful Labor party failing to pass the electoral threshold.

Channel 12’s poll, conducted by Mano Geva of Midgam, surveyed a representative sample of 512 Israeli citizens. It has a sampling error of 4.4%.

A dispute between coalition parties Likud and Kahol Lavan, who entered a unity government together after three elections within a year failed to result in a government being formed, has led to talk of yet another election. While Kahol Lavan insists on keeping to the coalition agreement, which calls for passing a two-year budget for 2020-2021, Likud is pushing for a one-year budget, which would cover only the remainder of this year.

By law, unless the Knesset either passes the budget by August 25 or passes legislation postponing that deadline, it will automatically dissolve and new elections will be held in November. Approving a one-year budget would allow Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset and hold new elections if the 2021 budget is not approved by March.

If this is the case, elections would be held in June and Netanyahu would remain prime minister in a caretaker government. Under his agreement with Gantz, should the government be dissolved for any reason other than failure to pass the budget, Gantz would be the caretaker prime minister.

In May, Yamina announced that the party was refusing to join the governing coalition, calling it a "left-wing government headed by Netanyahu." The party's statement said that it was preparing for "the day after Netanyahu."

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