United Centrist Party With Ex-general Ashkenazi Could Oust Netanyahu, Poll Suggests

Should former IDF chief join forces with center-left Yesh Atid and center-right Kulanu party to form single political ticket, they would win more Knesset seats than the Likud, TV polls say.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-IDF chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in 2010.
Emil Salman

A centrist party that includes former chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon would get 29 Knesset seats in a general election, compared to only 24 for Likud, according to a poll released Thursday night by Channel 10 news.

According to a poll by Channel 2, the public believes that Ashkenazi had a better chance of defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an election than Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog or Lapid, but still find Netanyahu more suitable to be prime minister.  

With no election in sight, both surveys were released in wake of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision Wednesday to close the criminal investigation into Ashkenazi and a number of former IDF officials in what has become known as the Harpaz affair, a convoluted scandal surrounding the process of selecting Ashkenazi’s successor. Police had recommended that Ashkenazi be charged with obstructing justice.

According to the Channel 10 poll, conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs, if Ashkenazi, Lapid, and Kahlon band together to form a new centrist party, that party would get 29 seats should the elections be held now. Likud would get 24, Zionist Union, 13, the Joint Arab List, 13, Habayit Hayehudi 12, and Yisrael Beiteinu, 10.

Participants were also asked about a scenario in which Ashkenazi assumes chairmanship of Zionist Union. In that case, Zionist Union would get 18 seats and the Likud 27. Habayit Hayehudi and the Joint List would each get 13, Yisrael Beiteinu, nine, and Kulanu and Shas, seven seats each.

If Ashkenazi were to run as Lapid’s No. 2 in Yesh Atid, the party would get 19 seats. The Likud would lead with 26 seats, and Zionist Union would get 14. 

Channel 2’s poll was conducted by Mano Geva and Mina Zemach of the Midgam Institute, in conjunction with Ipanel, an online survey community. Asked whether Netanyahu or Ashkenazi was more suited to be prime minister, 41 percent said Netanyahu and 16 percent said Ashkenazi. More than 31 percent responded that neither was suitable. 

Asked who was most suited to leading Zionist Union, 38 percent said Ashkenazi and 18 percent chose Herzog. Asked, “Who among the following people has the best chance to defeat Netanyahu if he would be a party’s candidate for prime minister,” Ashkenazi was chosen by 29 percent, compared to 24 percent for Lapid. Herzog got only 8 percent.