A new election poll shows Israel's center-left bloc gaining ground over the right ahead of the country's March 2 election, even as Israelis still consider Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more fit to be premier than his rival, Benny Gantz.
The Channel 13 News survey projects that the center-left bloc led by Gantz's Kahol Lavan would gain 59 Knesset seats as opposed to the right's 53. The previous polls, released by Channels 12 and 13 shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan last month, showed the center-left and right-wing blocs garnering 57 and 55-56 seats, respectively.
Without Avigdor Lieberman's kingmaker party Yisrael Beiteinu, which is projected to gain eight seats, both blocs fall short of the 61 seats needed to form a coalition.
When asked which contender is best suited for the premiership, though, respondents still favored Netanyahu over Kahol Lavan's Benny Gantz, with 44 percent choosing him to Gantz's 32. Sixteen percent said that they preferred neither candidate, and eight percent said they did not know.
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Regardless, Kahol Lavan maintains a slight lead with a projected 35 seats to Likud's 33. The Arab-majority Joint List trails them with 14 seats, an increase from the previous poll. The left-wing slate Labor-Gesher-Meretz is expected to receive 10 seats.
Consistent with previous polls, ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas are projected to receive seven seats. Far-right union Yamina dropped slightly from previous polls, garnering six seats. Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit failed to cross the electoral threshold and is projected to remain outside the Knesset.