If Israel were to go to another round of elections, Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party would become the largest party in Knesset and the former TV anchor would likely be named prime minister, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu party would plummet, a poll published Thursday showed.
The poll, ordered and released by the Knesset Channel, showed that if elections were to be held now, Yesh Atid would catapult to become the largest party by a solid margin, up to 30 seats from its current 19. The rightwing-Orthodox Jewish Home party would also gain, climbing from 12 to 15 seats.
In contrast, the more established Likud-Beytenu and Labor parties would both lose support, with Netanyahu’s faction winning a mere 22 seats — down from the 31 it won in January — and Shelly Yachimovich’s party dropping from 15 to 13.
The poll showed minor fluctuations among the other Knesset parties.
Though Netanyahu still has some time left to form a coalition, and he could receive a 14-day extension from President Shimon Peres that would give him until mid-March to do so, the current stalemate has raised the possibility of Israelis heading to the polls again in a couple of months.
While Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni signed an agreement for her Hatnua party to join the next coalition, Likud-Beytenu has had little success in attempts to reach a breakthrough with Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home.
These two parties have formed a united front on a number of key policy points, namely the matter of the Haredi draft, and have thus far resisted Likud’s overtures. Without one or both of those parties, Netanyahu would be left short of a 61-seat coalition in the 120-member Knesset.
Reports Thursday indicated that the Jewish Home faction has started preparing for the option of new elections, in case Netanyahu fails to form a coalition. But most analysts believe, as in previous cases, a coalition will likely come together ahead of the deadline.