A week after Benny Gantz’s maiden speech swept the center-left away and sent the new candidate soaring in the polls, the “Gantz effect” seems not to be fading, but neither is it gathering speed with two months to go before the election.
According to an opinion poll conducted by Haaretz and Dialog under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs, Gantz’s party, Hosen L’Yisrael, is maintaining its post-speech strength – receiving 22 Knesset seats according to the poll. It is the second-best showing for a party in the poll, after Likud, which is in the lead with 30 seats.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would of course be willing to accept this outcome, in which his current coalition (including Yisrael Beiteinu, which recently left the coalition for electoral reasons) numbers 64 MKs of 120 total seats, without Orli Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher (still at four seats, just above the voter threshold).
Hosen L’Yisrael has not significantly dented Likud's or other right-wing parties' support at the district level. It’s there, but not to a point where it poses a risk to a fifth term for Netanyahu.
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Netanyahu’s nightmare scenario, in which one or two of the parties that are “natural partners” don’t make it past the voter threshold, does not seem to be coming true – for the moment. They all make it into the Knesset and they all have five seats, including the leaderless Habayit Hayehudi. That extreme right-wing party has even grown stronger according to recent polls, apparently due the selection as chairman of the former IDF chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. (res.) Rafi Peretz.
The picture is less optimistic for the center-left bloc. Hosen L’Yisrael, together with Labor (with 5 seats, not that far above the voter threshtold), Yesh Atid (9) and Meretz (5, also teetering dangerously close to the voter threshold) does not form a strong bloc, totaling only 40 seats. Together with Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al (5) and Ayman Odeh’s Joint List (7) the bloc has 52 MKs, far from making Gantz the next prime minister.