The Jewish Home party will become the second-largest party in the next Knesset, according to a new poll published Thursday, which gives the right-wing party 18 seats, putting it on par with Labor.
The poll, conducted by the Geocartography Institute on behalf of Israel Radio, shows Naftali Bennett’s nationalist faction making strong gains with less than three weeks to go till voting day on January 22.
The number represents an unprecedented surge for the nationalist-religious party, already making large gains in pre-election polling. Earlier polls had shown the party winning 12 to 13 seats, up from the three it currently has in the Knesset. (It has also merged with the National Union, which had four seats in the outgoing Knesset.)
The new ultra-nationalist Otzma Leyisrael party polled at six seats, according to the survey. This is the first time a survey has pegged it at above three seats, with a number of polls showing it not gaining enough votes to enter the Knesset.
The Israel Radio survey gave Likud-Beytenu 35 seats, making it by far the largest faction.
Overall, the poll shows a dramatic rise in support for the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc — up from 65-67 seats in most recent surveys to 74 seats — and a stark fall on the center-left.
Labor would stay strong at 18 seats, according to the poll.
On Thursday, Labor head Shelly Yachimovich said her party would not enter a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should his Likud-Beytenu joint list form the next government.
“There are two options. Either Labor, with me at the head, forms the next government, or we lead the opposition. There’s no alternative,” she said.
Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua slipped to just six seats, a poorer showing in the poll than the seven apiece for hard-left Meretz and the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism — both of which had polled at 4-5 seats in most previous polls.
Another ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, previously predicted to get 11-12 seats, is shown dropping to eight.
The new Yesh Atid party under Yair Lapid slumped drastically to five seats, down from earlier polls that gave it 10 places.
The rise of the Jewish Home and Otzma Leyisrael party, which both reject Palestinian statehood, may go hand in hand with another finding of the survey, that 45% of Israelis say a two-state solution won’t end the conflict with the Palestinians, as opposed to 40% who support the idea as a way to bring peace to the region.
On Sunday, President Shimon Peres said there was a clear majority in support of the two-state solution, and previous surveys have found most Israelis in favor of the idea.
The survey also shed light on the doubt among many voters as to which party they support.
Half of those who responded that they intend to vote for Labor also said that they are uncertain in their choice, and 47% of Yesh Atid voters expressed similar doubt. Of declared Likud-Yisrael Beytenu voters, 72% expressed themselves as sure; 58% percent of Labor supporters were certain.
By contrast, 59% of those who said they intend to vote for the staunchly right-wing Jewish Home party said they were sure about their intentions.
The survey questioned 500 people, with a margin of error of 4.2%.