Israeli Polls Suggest New Labor Leaders Won't Overtake Netanyahu's Likud

Amir Peretz and Avi Gabbay will face off for Israel's Labor Party leadership, but neither will gain more than 15 Knesset seats, new polls suggest

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 25, 2017.

Polling results reported Wednesday evening suggest that either one of the Israeli Labor Party's potential leaders would not make substantial gains at the expense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, or even cause more than a small dent to Israel's centrist parties.

A poll by Channel 2 show that if elections for the Knesset were held now with Amir Peretz as head of the Labor Party, the party would garner 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. If Avi Gabbay were at the party's helm, the poll shows the Labor Party with just one seat less at 14 seats. A poll by the Walla News website showed the party getting 18 seats with either of the two as party leader.

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Avi Gabbay and Amir Peretz
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Peretz and Gabbay were the top two finishers on Tuesday in the first round of the Labor Party primary, which was open to party members. Since neither got 40 percent of the vote, party rules require a runoff vote between them, which is to be held on Monday.

Channel 2's public opinion poll, which the Midgam polling firm conducted among a sample of 500 people, found that if elections were held now with Gabbay as Labor Party leader, Netanyahu's Likud party would get 28 seats; Yesh Atid would receive 21 seats; the Joint Arab List 13 seats; the Kulanu party 11; Habayit Hayehudi 9; Yisrael Beiteinu 7; the Meretz party and United Torah Judaism 6 each; and Shas would get 5 seats.

If Peretz were to lead the party if an election were to be held know, the Channel 2 poll predicted that Likud would get 29 seats; Yesh Atid 20; the Joint List 13; Kulanu 10; Habayit Hayehudi 9; Yisrael Beiteinu 7; Meretz and United Torah Judaism 6 each; and Shas 5 seats.

Public broadcaster Kan released its own polling results on Wednesday evening with a focus on voters' view of the suitability of party leaders. Six percent of those questioned said if Peretz is leader of the Labor Party, they would view him as most suitable as prime minister. With Peretz as party leader, 28 percent said Netanyahu is best suited to be prime minister; 19 percent named Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid; and 9 percent Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett.

With Avi Gabbay as the Labor Party leader, 11 percent said they would view him as best suited to be prime minister; 29 percent named Netanyahu; 19 percent named Lapid; and 10 percent said that Bennett would be most suitable to lead the country.