Ayelet Shaked Should Lead Israel's religious-Zionist Camp, Poll Shows

In a survey conducted by newspaper Makor Rishon, 40 percent of religious Zionists said they would vote for the former justice minister, while only 19 percent expressed support for her partner, Naftali Bennett

Former justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Meged Gozani

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who failed to pass the electoral threshold in Israel's April 9 election with her party, Hayamin Hehadash, is the leading candidate to head the religious-Zionist camp, a survey published Friday by the newspaper Makor Rishon shows.

The survey found that 40.1 percent of respondents said they would vote for Shaked, while only 19 percent said they would support Hayamin Hehadash chairman and former Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

Some 15 percent of those polled said Union of Right-Wing Parties head Bezalel Smotrich is the most suitable candidate to lead the religious-Zionist slate, whereas 14.8 percent thought his co-leader Rafi Peretz should take the helm.

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More than half of the respondents — 56.7 percent  said that all religious right-wing parties should run on a joint slate, including Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party that also failed to enter the Knesset in the last election.

Furthermore, 17.1 percent supported the merger of Habayit Hayehudi party with National Union-Tkuma party, without Zehut and the far-right Otzma Yehudit party. 14 percent said the Union of Right-Wing Parties, which currently includes Habayit Hayehudi-National Union-Otzma Yehudit should run on a joint ticket, while Zehut should team up with Hayamin Hehadash.

However, 27.2 percent of those surveyed categorically rejected the option that they would vote for Feiglin's Zehut, even if it runs on a joint slate with the religious Zionist parties.

Despite the camp's loss of votes over internal splits, 76.7 percent of respondents said they stand behind their vote, while 14.9 percent expressed regret for how they voted.

Some 42 percent said they cast their ballot for Hayamin Hehadash, 41.5 percent said they voted for the Union of Right-Wing Parties, while 6.8 percent said they rooted for Likud and 3.9 percent for Zehut.

When asked who they would have voted for if the election would have been held without an electoral threshold, with each party running independently, 43.4 percent of the respondents expressed their support for the Hayamin Hehadash, 22.8 percent for Habayit Hayehudi, and 11.7 percent said they would vote for the National Union party.

Moreover, 62.9 percent criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for underestimating the religious parties, while 18 percent said the premier treats the religious camp as he treats his other coalition partners.

Two days before the survey was conducted, Netanyahu appointed Likud MK Amir Ohana as justice minister, despite Smotrich's demand to fill this position.

Following Ohana's appointment, Smotrich tweeted: “Netanyahu wouldn’t treat any other of his allies as he treats the religious-Zionists. It’s time to draw conclusions.”

The poll was conducted by Direct Polls LTD among 1,370 respondents of Israel's adult population, out of 39,730 who "define themselves as belonging to the religious Zionist camp, and who voted to the parties affiliated with the religious Zionists in the past and present," according to Makor Rishon. It had a sampling error of 2.9 percent, with a 95 percent probability.