Poll puts religious fringe party in Knesset with four seats

Poll puts religious fringe party in Knesset with four seats

Bizarre Israel Radio survey projects right-wing bloc to win vast margin in upcoming elections, but doesn't publish full figures

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The right-wing bloc will hold a vast, 22-seat advantage in the Knesset over the center-left after the upcoming elections, Israel Radio projected in a poll published on Thursday. Another surprising aspect of the survey was its projection that the Koah Lehashpia (Ability to Influence) party, headed by evangelical telerabbi Amnon Yitzhak, would win four seats.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the published survey (Hebrew), however, was that its findings for seats per party did not add up to the 120 seats in the Knesset, but rather to 115, making its veracity difficult to to ascertain.

Yitzhak, who founded and leads an organization that advocates spiritual revival among secular Israelis, remarked in an interview this month on Channel 10 that the Holocaust was a punishment for Jewish sins, and in November that Superstorm Sandy, which struck the United States, was a message to Israel to cease its dependence on its biggest ally.

“Here we have America, with all of its magnitude, dealing with a nice hurricane,” Ynet quoted him saying.

In the poll, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu alliance leads the pack with 34 seats, the Labor Party wins 17, Jewish Home 14, Yesh Atid nine, Shas nine, Hatnua seven, United Torah Judaism seven, Meretz four, Hadash four, Koah Lehashpia four, Ra’am Ta’al three, and Balad three.

A poll published by Israel Radio last week had shown Jewish Home and Labor neck and neck with 18 seats apiece, and Likud-Beytenu leading with 35 seats.

The new ultra-nationalist Otzma Leyisrael party, which polled at six seats in last week’s Israel Radio survey, did not break the threshold for entering the Knesset in Thursday’s survey by the same broadcaster. The Kadima party, currently the largest with 28 seats, also is not projected to win any seats, according to the latest poll.

With these projected outcomes, Israel Radio reported that the center-left bloc was expected to have 49 seats compared to the 71 seats of the right wing and religious bloc, a slight drop for the right-wing from last week’s poll. Again, in the absence of a full projected picture of the 120 seats, that assertion was impossible to verify.

The poll’s center-left voters also said they found Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni principally responsible for the failure of a formation of a center-left alliance, and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich less responsible. Livni publicly called for the three leaders to meet in an interview on Channel 2 on Friday.

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