Lapid Would Win Big While Gabbay Would Crash, Poll Suggests

The poll shows Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party more than doubling its current holding to 25 seats, one more than current ruling party Likud's projection

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid at a party conference in Tel Aviv, October 16, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

If elections were held today Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would win 25 Knesset seats, the highest number of any party and more than double what it currently holds, according to an opinion poll published on Friday morning in Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon. Likud, the current ruling party, came in second with 24 seats, down from its current 30.

According the poll, the Zionist Union party under new leader Avi Gabbay would win only 12 Knesset seats, exactly half the number it currently holds. Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party follows closely with 11 projected seats, one more than it currently holds. Kahlon will soon have to face the decision of whether or not to leave the coalition and bring about elections after police make public their recommendations regarding the corruption cases involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the poll, Naftali Bennet's Habayit Hayehudi party would  increase its strength to 14 Knesset seats, up from eight, while the Joint List would lose one seat, ending up with 11.

The religious coalition party United Torah Judaism would pick up an extra seat, giving them a total of seven. The Shas party would drop three seats to a total of four.

The left-wing Meretz would see an increase of two seats to seven, while Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu would drop from six to five. The poll was conducted by the Maagar Mochot research institution and had 507 participants.

The survey also asked people who they think is most suited to be prime minister, if elections were held today. Netanyahu headed the list with 24 percent, while Lapid received only 18 percent. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was the choice of 7 percent. Avi Gabbay and Naftali Bennett both received 6 percent and Avigdor Lieberman 3 percent.

One third of the respondents said they would pick none of the options listed or any other person. By contrast, a July opinion poll published by Channel 2 News showed 34 percent of respondents picking Netanyahu as most suited to be prime minister, with 13 percent choosing Gabbay and 12 percent picking Lapid.

A survey taken for Channel 10 last month showed that Gabbay was significantly faltering. While both Likud and Yesh Atid got 24 Knesset seats in that poll, the Zionist Union plummeted from 24 to 17 seats. The same poll showed Habayit Hayehudi going from eight to 12 seats, the Joint List dropping from 13 to 11 and Kulanu dropping from 10 to nine seats. Moreover, both United Torah Judaism and Meretz went up to seven seats, with Yisrael Beiteinu dropping to five and Shas to four Knesset seats.

Gabbay’s weakened standing comes on the backdrop of several contentious statements that drew fire from the left. Over the last few months Gabbay has said that the left has forgotten how to be Jewish, voiced support for the deportation of African asylum seekers and said that a united Jerusalem is more important than peace, even arguing that settlements should not be evacuated in the event that a peace accord is reached.