Israel Election Polls: Support for Netanyahu's Likud Drops, Right-wing Slate on the Rise

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party would lose four to five of its current 36 Knesset seats should Israel go again to election, two polls published on Thursday predict, while right-wing party Yamina is projected to more than double its electoral power.

According to a Channel 13 News poll, Likud would get 31 out of 120 Knesset seats, and according to a Channel 12 News poll, it would get 32. 

The Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc would have 60 seats, according to Channel 13, while the center-left bloc would get 52, possibly making Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman kingmaker after a potential election. However, the Channel 12 News poll predicts Netanyahu’s bloc would have 63 seats, giving it a clear majority even without Yisrael Beiteinu.

The second-biggest party, according to both polls, would be Yesh Atid-Telem, which ran together with Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan in Israel’s March 2 election. It then split when Gantz decided to join a unity government with Netanyahu. The polls predict it would get 18-19 Knesset seats.

Right-wing slate Yamina, led by former ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, would get 15-16 seats, according to the polls, while the Joint List, a four-way alliance of Arab-majority parties, would get 15 seats.

Kahol Lavan, according to the polls, would get between nine and 11 seats. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu is predicted to win seven-eight seats. 

Left-wing party Meretz, which currently has only three representatives in parliament, would get seven-eight seats, according to the polls.

Ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism is also predicted to seven-eight seats, and Shas six-eight.

Three parties currently in the Knesset – Labor and Gesher, which ran together with Meretz in Israel’s March election, and Derech Eretz, which ran with Kahol Lavan and Yesh Atid – are projected to fall below the 3.25-percent electoral threshold in both polls.

According to the Channel 13 poll, 57 percent of Israelis view another election as “harmful,” and according to the Channel 12 poll, 64 percent believe Israel shouldn’t go to election at this point in time.

The Channel 13 poll also looked at how Israelis view the government’s handling of the economic crisis, putting its approval rating at a mere 15 percent. 76 percent of respondents said the government isn’t handling the crisis well.

Earlier on Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin spoke out against the possibility of early election. He urged cabinet ministers to “stop the talk about holding an early election” after it was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to promote the move as the country faces a severe economic crisis in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like every other citizen, I am following the developments in the Knesset with great concern, the repetitive destabilization by all the governing parties of an already fragile partnership,” Rivlin wrote on Twitter.

“I call upon all of you as a citizen like all others, speaking in their name, from their mouths, straighten yourselves up! Quit the talk about moving up the election. Quit discussing this terrible option at this time, and avoid it. The State of Israel is not a rag doll to be dragged around behind you while you feud endlessly,” Rivlin posted in a tweet.

“Our citizens, all of them, need you to be focused, clear, acting to find a solution to the unprecedented crisis to Israel and all humanity. The capability is in your hands.”

On Wednesday, political sources who spoke to the prime minister and people close to him told Haaretz that Netanyahu decided to not pass the budget for 2020 and to call a general election to take place on November 18.

The political chaos Israel is witnessing is meant to prepare the public for the notion that "it is impossible to go on like this," thus justifying another election cycle in 2020, the sources said. Israel held its recent election on March 2, the third within one year.

On election day in March, Rivlin expressed regret for the unprecedented number of consecutive election rounds Israel went through in a year. 

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