A series of polls published Friday show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union neck and neck in the run-up to the March 17 elections, but with Netanyahu better placed to form a majority coalition.
A Walla! poll gave the Likud and the Zionist Union 24 seats each, followed by Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List at 12 each, Jewish Home 11, Shas and Kulanu 8 each, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beytenu 6, and Meretz and Yachad 4 each.
An Israel Hayom survey produced similar results, showing Likud and Zionist Union at 23 seats each, followed by Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List at 13 each, Jewish Home 12, Kulanu 9, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism each at 6, Meretz 5 and Yachad 4.
A Maariv poll put Zionist Union slightly ahead at 24 seats, with Likud at 22, followed by Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List at 13 each, Jewish Home 12, Kulanu 8, Shas 7, United Torah Judaism and Meretz at 6, Yisrael Beytenu 5 and Yachad 4.
None of the polls showed a significant shift in voter preferences in the aftermath of Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress on Tuesday. All of the polls suggested Netanyahu could form a coalition of potential allies with 64-68 seats (involving the right-wing, Orthodox parties and Kulanu) and that Herzog would have a harder time mustering a majority.
A Channel 2 survey earlier in the week, the first to be published after the speech — conducted among 790 respondents with a 3.5% margin of error — had said the Zionist Union would receive 24 seats, while the Likud would gain 23. The Joint (Arab) List placed third with 13 seats, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home followed with 12 each, and Kulanu with 8. Yisrael Beytenu and Meretz, as well as ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, would each gain 6 seats, while Eli Yishai’s new Yachad party managed to just cross the electoral threshold with 4 Knesset seats.
Conducted by the Midgam polling group, the Channel 2 survey further found that 44% of respondents believe Netanyahu’s Washington address strengthened his standings in Israel, 43% said there was no change in the Israeli leader’s popularity and 12% said the prime minister had been weakened as a result of the speech.
Thirty-one percent of polled individuals said the main goal of Netanyahu’s address was to thwart a deal between the P5+1 world powers and Iran over the latter’s contested nuclear program, 29% said the prime minister traveled abroad mainly for campaigning purposes, and 30% said they believed the Israeli leader intended to achieve both goals.
Despite the slight lead for Zionist Union in the Channel 2 survey, 47% of those polled said they wanted to see Netanyahu serve again as prime minister, with Herzog gaining the support of only 28%. Twenty-one percent said they did not know whom they preferred.
JTA and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.