Poll: Yair Lapids Yesh Atid Party Overtakes Likud at 27 to 22 Knesset Seats

The main opposition party, the Zionist Union, falls to 14 seats. Separately, 62% of respondents say taxpayers shouldnt be paying for security for Netanyahus two grown children

Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid speaking in the Knesset, January 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yair Lapids centrist Yesh Atid party would be the largest force in the Knesset with 27 seats if voting were held today, according to a poll released Friday by the daily Maariv.

Yesh Atid currently has 11 representatives in the 120-seat Knesset. According to the poll by the Panels Politics research firm, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Likud would drop to 22 seats from the current 30, while the main opposition party, the Zionist Union, would tumble to 14 from 24.

Lapid founded Yesh Atid in 2012; the following year it reached the Knesset with 19 MKs, and Lapid, a former TV anchorman, became finance minister until December 2014 under Netanyahu.

According to the poll, many Likud voters would switch to the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, which would rise to 13 seats from eight. The Joint List of Arab parties would ease two seats to 11, while an ultra-Orthodox party, United Torah Judaism, would rise to eight seats from six.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liebermans Yisrael Beiteinu would fall one seat to five, while a second ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, would plunge to four seats from seven.

Left-wing Meretz would rise two seats to seven, while center-right Kulanu, led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, would fall one seat to nine.

The poll was conducted among a representative sample of 572 Israelis over age 18. The margin of error was 4.3 percent.

According to a poll published in the newspaper Makor Rishon two weeks ago, Yesh Atid would win 25 seats if an election were held now, followed by Likud at 24 and Zionist Union, which is made up largely of the Labor Party, at 12. Lapid also closed the gap with Netanyahu regarding how many people saw him as an appropriate candidate for prime minister.

This file photo taken on March 18, 2015 shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Thomas Coex/AFP

Panels Politics also asked questions on issues such as the conversations between Netanyahus 26-year-old son Yair and his friends during their rounds to strip clubs one evening. The conversations were secretly recorded and later obtained by the Israel Television News Company, which broadcast the tape this week.

Some 44 percent of respondents said it was inappropriate to broadcast the recording, while 40 percent said the opposite. In addition, 62 percent said taxpayers should not be paying for security for the prime ministers children. A club employee has said members of the Shin Bet security service stood guard after Yair Netanyahu had entered a room at a strip club.

In the poll, 28 percent said the most problematic part was the use of a government car and a security guard for personal reasons. Meanwhile, 24 percent said the worst problem was Yairs objectification of women, while 16 percent cited his comments on Israels regulatory plan for its natural gas industry, which Yair said greatly benefited his friends father, businessman Kobi Maimon.

As the worst problem, 10 percent mentioned the visits to the strip clubs, and 8 percent said there was nothing particularly problematic. Some 14 percent said they did not know.

As for the Knessets passing of a law limiting the opening of grocery stores on Shabbat, 62 percent were against the law and 20 percent were for, while 18 percent had no opinion. Among people who identified as nonreligious, 87 percent objected to the law, compared with 64 percent who considered themselves traditional Jews. Some 46 percent of religious-Zionists supported the law, as did 65 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews.