Netanyahu's Party Maintains Lead Even With Potential Center-left Merger, Poll Finds

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Campaign posters in central Tel Aviv show Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Huldai, January 11, 2021.
Campaign posters in central Tel Aviv show Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Huldai, January 11, 2021.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is seen gaining strength in an election poll published on Tuesday, overcoming the center and left-wing parties regardless of a merger.

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With just over two months before Israelis return to the polls on March 23, for the fourth time in two years, Likud would get 30 out of 120 Knesset seats – one up from the 29 it was predicted in the previous Channel 12 News poll, released a week ago – while the crowded field of centrist and left-wing parties would reach 29 seats in total if they ran individually, and only 27 in the event of the slated merger.

However, Netanyahu would still struggle to secure a majority coalition. Likud’s 30 seats together with eight each for ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism and 13 for Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party only make up 59 seats.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s party, The Israelis, is losing support and nearing the 3.25-percent electoral threshold. The latest poll gives it four seats only.

A bloc of anti-Netanyahu parties, including Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, the Joint List, Yisrael Beiteinu, The Israelis, Meretz and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, according to the poll, have 61 seats combined.

The poll also investigated how other potential mergers would impact public opinion.

Beyond the prospect of center-left merger, the far-right National Union and Otzma Yehudit would cross the threshold and achieve four seats if they were to merge, with Bennett’s Yamina dropping down to 11 seats and Likud losing one seat. 

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