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Left crumbles, Ya’alon excels in election poll

Likud projected to lose ground to other right-wing parties, Channel 1 survey shows; Yesh Atid jumps to second largest party

Moshe Ya'alon announces his intent to run for the leadership of Israel during the Herzliya conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on June 16, 2016. (Adi Cohen Zedek)
Moshe Ya'alon announces his intent to run for the leadership of Israel during the Herzliya conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on June 16, 2016. (Adi Cohen Zedek)

A political survey published Monday on Channel 1 showed that if elections were held today, the Zionist Union would implode and a party headed by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon would find itself among the bigger Knesset factions.

The poll was conducted Monday by TNS Teleseker polling, less than a week after Ya’alon launched a tirade against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said he’d challenge him in the next election. Ya’alon resigned from the Knesset last month after Netanyahu gave the defense portfolio to Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman as part of a coalition deal to bring the six-seat party into the government.

After the political shake-up and resulting blowback, the 500 respondents from across the country who took part in the survey indicated that if elections were held today, Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party would plummet from its current 30 seats to just 22.

Five of those seats would go to farther-right party Jewish Home, which jumped from eight seats to 13 in the poll. Liberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beytenu party would gain three, going up to nine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left,  Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, center, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset, Jerusalem May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, center, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset, Jerusalem May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The political Center would make significant gains at the expense of the Left, with Ya’alon’s presumptive centrist party taking 10 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The biggest winner, however, would be Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, rocketing from its current 11 seats to 20 — a seat more than it had in the previous Knesset and the second largest after Likud. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s economy-minded Kulanu party was projected to drop from 10 to just six.

The Left, meanwhile, all but crashes. Meretz held steady in the poll at its current five seats, but the Zionist Union plummeted from its current 24 — the second largest in the Knesset — to just nine, which would be the smallest in its history. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog has been heavily criticized from within his party for on-off coalition talks with Netanyahu that terminated when the prime minister brought Liberman into the coalition instead.

Arab and Haredi parties are largely the same: the Joint (Arab) List unchanged at 13, Shas dropping slightly from 7 to 6 and United Torah Judaism rising slightly from 6 to 7.

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog, right, party member MK Shelly Yachimovich during a faction meeting in the Knesset, November 25, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Labor party leader Isaac Herzog, right, party member MK Shelly Yachimovich during a faction meeting in the Knesset, November 25, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zionist Union MK and former Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich responded to the poll’s results saying they “raised grave concerns” and required urgent consideration.

Despite the jumble, a potential right-wing and religious party bloc, including Kahlon’s and Ya’alon’s parties, would win 73 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, whereas a left-wing bloc including Lapid’s party would only win 47.

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