Poll: Party headlined by Ya’alon, Sa’ar, Kahlon could beat Likud
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Poll: Party headlined by Ya’alon, Sa’ar, Kahlon could beat Likud

Survey shows new center-right alliance could snatch up 25 seats, compared to Likud's 21; Zionist Union would be reduced to just 11 seats

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Former interior minister Gideon Saar (L), former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon (2L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2R) and former  energy minister Silvan Shalom in the Knesset on May 1, 2013. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Former interior minister Gideon Saar (L), former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon (2L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2R) and former energy minister Silvan Shalom in the Knesset on May 1, 2013. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

A new political party with former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon and former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar would get the largest number of seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament — 25 — if elections were held today, according to a poll published on Friday.

The survey by Israel Radio indicated that a new center-right party would beat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud by four seats, with Israel’s ruling party dropping from its current 30 seats to 21.

With the new Ya’alon-Kahlon-Sa’ar party in the running, the Zionist Union would fall dramatically — from 24 seats to 11 — and the center-left Yesh Atid, right-wing Jewish Home and right-wing Yisrael Beytenu would all snatch up two more seats than they currently have (Yesh Atid would rise from 11 to 13, Jewish Home from 8 to 10, and Yisrael Beytenu from 6 to 8).

The Joint (Arab) List would remain steady with 13 seats, as would the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism with eight. Ultra-Orthodox party Shas and left-wing Meretz would each lose one seat, according to the survey.

Ya’alon resigned last Friday, after Netanyahu offered the Defense Ministry to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman as part of coalition talks. In his parting address, the veteran Likud politician vowed a political comeback.

Sa’ar, also a former Likud minister, is rumored to be considering a return to political life and is thought to be a contender to Netanyahu for the premiership. Ya’alon, Sa’ar and Kahlon have not suggested they will run on a joint ticket in the future, and the survey is entirely speculative.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (L) with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem before announcing an agreement of the defense budget for the next five years, November 18, 2015,. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (left) with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem before announcing an agreement of the defense budget for the next five years, November 18, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Without the formation of such a new center-right party, the Likud would shrink by two seats (28) but remain, by far, the largest party in the Knesset, according to the Israel Radio poll.

The second-largest party would be Yesh Atid with 19 seats, identical to the number it had after the 2013 elections. Kahlon’s Kulanu would drop from 10 to 6, and the Zionist Union would decline from its 24 seats to 15. The Jewish Home and Yisrael Beytenu parties would get an additional two seats, respectively, and Shas and Meretz one more than they now hold (7 and 6).

The poll did not note the number of respondents or margin of error.

Environmental Minister Avi Gabai announces his resignation, May 27, 2016 (FLASH90)
Environmental Minister Avi Gabai announces his resignation, May 27, 2016 (FLASH90)

The coalition deal between Netanyahu and Liberman was signed on Wednesday, bringing the latter’s five-seat party into the narrow coalition. It would have been six seats but Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abekasis resigned from her party last week, although not from the Knesset, in protest of the talks.

On Friday, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, a non-MK from Kulanu, stepped down, saying he “could not swallow” Liberman’s appointment and Ya’alon’s resignation.

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