Gantz Closes Gap on Netanyahu: Dramatic Rise in Polls After Debut Speech

In first, Gantz projected to overtake Likud if he joins forces with Lapid ■ Netanyahu, Gantz tied when Israelis asked who should be prime minister

Benny Gantz greeting supporters at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, January 29, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz, largely considered the top rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections, would receive 21 to 24 Knesset seats if the election was held today - eight seats more than the previous polls predicted. The dramatic rise comes one day after Gantz gave his first public remarks on his political platform in Tel Aviv.

Likud is forecast to receive 30 to 31 seats out of the 120-seat Knesset, while an alliance between Gantz and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid would receive 35 seats with Gantz at the helm.

When asked who should be prime minister, 36% of those polled by Channel 12 said Netanyahu while 35% said Gantz.

A poll held last week showed that Netanyahu would lose four Knesset seats if Attorney General Avichai Medelblit announces his intention to indict him for accepting bribes ahead of the election.

>> Wiping out top competitors, Gantz demonstrates he could succeed Netanyahu | Analysis ■ No, Netanyahu, Gantz Is not left-wing – he's the old right | Analysis ■ Benny Gantz, Netanyahu rival, gives campaign launch speech - full English transcript

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, Jerusalem, January 20, 2019.
Emil Salman

According to the poll, if the election is held today, Yesh Atid would receive 9 to 11 seats, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's new party, Hayamin Hehadash, would receive six to eight seats and United Torah Judaism, the ultra-Orthodox joint ticket, would receive six to seven seats. The Joint List would receive six seats, Ta'al six to eight, while Shas would receive four to five seats. Kulanu would get 4 to 5 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu with four seats, Meretz four to six seats while Orli Levi-Abekasis's party Gesher might not pass the electoral threshold according to some polls or might get four seats.