A poll published on Tuesday evening showed that, for the first time, Yesh Atid is slated to become the largest political party in Israel.
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According to the Channel 2 News poll, if elections were held today, Yair Lapid's party would gain 24 Knesset seats, while the ruling Likud would lose about a quarter of its voters and receive only 22 seats. Habayit Hayehudi would be the third-largest party, with 14 seats.
The poll shows that the Zionist Union would drop down and receive only 13 seats, the same number as the Joint List. Yisrael Beiteinu would be next with 10 seats, followed by United Torah Judaism (7), Shas (6), Kulanu (6) and Meretz (5).
The poll, conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemach and Meno Geva of the Midgam research institute, together with iPanel, shows that since the previous election, about half of the Zionist Union's voters moved to support Yesh Atid.
However, even if the poll is accurate, its results don’t guarantee that Lapid would head the government. The Likud, the poll shows, lost some of its strength to Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi. The report also noted that an internal survey conducted by Yesh Atid reached similar results to the Channel 2 poll.
The Likud party posted a response on its Facebook page.
"There is no reason to get excited about the poll published by Channel 2 this evening," the Likud announced on Tuesday. "We all remember that they forecast 18 seats for the Likud in the last elections, and we saw what the result was."
The Likud said the poll was the direct result of the Shabbat business crisis, which is behind everyone now that the High Court has made a decision on the matter.
"Besides, one should remember that all leftist governments over the generations have made coalitions with Haredi parties: the first Rabin government, the second Rabin government that passed the Oslo accords with the support of the Haredi parties, the Barak government and the Olmert government," the party stated on Facebook. "These governments also did not implement any changes on the issue of religion and state."
The party accused Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid of signalling to the ultra-Orthodox parties that he won't make any changes on such matters. "Likud voters will return when they understand that Lapid is a leftist who heads a leftist party that will lead to compromises and withdrawals that will endanger Israel's security," it stated.