Gantz preferred over Netanyahu as PM

Gantz’s National Unity party soars past Netanyahu’s plunging Likud, poll finds

Centrist party led by former defense minister would win 28 seats, PM’s Likud would get 24, with governing coalition falling from 64 seats to 52

Election posters hung by the Blue and White party show its candidate Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Hebrew slogan reading 'Netanyahu cares only for himself,' ahead of the 2020 elections. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90/ File)
Election posters hung by the Blue and White party show its candidate Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Hebrew slogan reading 'Netanyahu cares only for himself,' ahead of the 2020 elections. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90/ File)

The National Unity party, headed by Benny Gantz, would easily form the largest party in the Knesset if elections were held today, a Channel 12 poll indicated Sunday, predicting that the governing coalition would fall from 64 seats to 52.

The poll largely confirmed the findings of an earlier Channel 13 poll that first reported a striking drop in support for the coalition and surging support for the former defense minister.

According to the Channel 12 poll, Gantz’s party would win 28 seats if elections were held today, four more than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which would get 24 seats, a significant drop from the 32 seats it currently holds in the Knesset.

Yesh Atid, chaired by Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, would fall to 20 seats, down from its current crop of 24 seats, making the centrist party the third largest in the Knesset.

In a survey conducted by Channel 13 last week, Likud fell to just 20 seats, while Gantz’s National Unity party received a whopping 29 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

The combined far-right Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit slate would drop from 14 to 11 seats, Sunday’s Channel 12 poll predicted. Shas would receive 10 seats, and United Torah Judaism would remain steady with seven seats.

The left-wing Meretz would return to the Knesset with five seats after dropping below the electoral threshold this time, while Ra’am, Hadash-Ta’al and Yisrael Beytenu also each would get five seats. Labor, led by Merav Michaeli, and Palestinian nationalist party Balad would not pass the electoral threshold, Channel 12 found.

The results would see Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc fall from 64 seats to 52, while the parties that made up the last government could form a Knesset majority with 63 seats. Hadash-Ta’al would hold the remaining five seats in the 120-seat house.

Asked whether Netanyahu or Gantz was more suitable to be prime minister, 34% of respondents chose the current prime minister, while 39% preferred Gantz.

In a head-to-head between Netanyahu and Lapid, the former was the preferred option with 38% of votes, while Lapid received 31%.

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on October 23, 2022. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)

Channel 12 also surveyed respondents based on a scenario in which former prime minister Naftali Bennett returned to the political scene with a newly formed centrist party.

In such a case, Bennett would win eight seats, while both Likud and National Unity party would get 24 and Yesh Atid would get 18.

Two polls released last month both predicted that Likud would receive 25 seats and National Unity would get 23 or 21 seats, if an election were held now. Those polls were carried out hours before Netanyahu announced a pause on the highly controversial judicial overhaul legislation.

In general, opinion polls in Israel are considered unreliable, but they do often affect public opinion and drive decision-making among parties ahead of elections.

No elections are set for anytime soon, but the polls could become relevant if the current hard-right coalition — where significant cracks open up from time to time — falls.

The Channel 12 poll was carried out by Manor Geva and sampled 504 respondents with a margin of error of 4.4%.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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