Joint Gantz-Lapid Slate Would Overtake Netanyahu, Oust Meretz, Poll Shows

Potential merger is predicted 36 out of 120 Knesset seats, but Likud remains in the lead if Hosen L'Yisrael and Yesh Atid run separately

Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg on February 4, 2019.
\ Ilan Assayag

A merger between Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid parties would take the lead in Israel's general election with 36 out of 120 Knesset seats, according to a poll published Thursday by Channel 13 News.

Such a union would overtake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, predicted to get 32 seats. The poll also predicted that in such a case, left-wing Meretz would not clear the electoral threshold and be left out of parliament.

Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash is predicted nine Knesset seats, followed by Arab-majority Joint List, Ahmad Tibi's Ta'al and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism, each with six seats.

Lagging behind, according to the poll, are Habayit Hayehudi, Avi Gabbay's Labor and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, each with five seats, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu with four. MK Orli Levi-Abekasis's Gesher is also predicted not to clear the electoral threshold.

Former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday that he is actively working to form a joint center-left slate, saying that unity is "what's needed right now." It has also been reported in recent weeks that Gantz is hoping to recruit Ashkenazi to his party.

At this stage, Ashkenazi is seeking to predicate his entry into politics on Gantz’s party joining forces with Yesh Atid, but Lapid said last month that if a joint slate is formed, he would not be prepared to forgo the top spot on the slate. Parties have until February 21 to finalize their tickets.

Should Hosen L'Yisrael and Yesh Atid run on separate tickets, Likud would stay in the lead with 32 seats, while Gantz's party is predicted 24 seats and Lapid's 10. In such scenario, Meretz would only barely make it into Knesset with four seats, but Gesher would still be left out.

The poll run by Professor Kamil Fuchs was conducted among 761 Jewish and Arab Israelis. The margin of error is 3.7 percent.

A poll published by public broadcaster Kan on Wednesday suggested a Gantz-Lapid bloc would secure 33 seats, with Netanyahu's Likud only slightly behind with 32.

The pollsters also pitched hypothetical alliances to potential voters. If former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi would join Hosen L'Yisrael, Likud's lead would shrink from 32 to 28, while Yesh Atid would slip to seven seats. However, if Gantz and Lapid would run together, their unified party would fetch 35 seats.

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