Ahead of March’s elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the center-left Labor-Hatnua union were neck and neck in an Israel Radio poll on Friday, each with 23 mandates.
A Maariv poll earlier Friday gave the joint ticket between Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni a slight lead, with 24 seats. According to the Maariv poll, Netanyahu’s Likud would win 23 seats if elections were held this week, up two seats from last week.
Netanyahu’s main rivals on the right, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would get 9 and 8 seats, respectively, according to the Israel Radio poll. Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which is allied with Likud, had a consistently strong showing, with 17 mandates.
The Maariv survey showed Kulanu at 7 seats, a slip from last week’s 10 mandates. In that same poll, Yisrael Beytenu received 5 seats, down from 8, following a massive graft scandal affecting the party which was exposed this week.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents to the Israel Radio poll said they would prefer Netanyahu lead the country, while 36% would sooner have Herzog take the top spot. Twenty-five percent said they would prefer neither or had no opinion. Seventeen percent said they were undecided.
When asked what issues were most important to the 570 respondents of the poll when voting, 58% said social and economic matters, with security and diplomatic affairs coming in at 41%.
The Israel Radio poll’s full results were: Likud – 23, Labor-Hatnua – 23, Jewish Home – 17, Kulanu – 9, Yesh Atid headed by Yair Lapid – 8, Yisrael Beytenu – 8, Shas – 8, United Torah Judaism – 7, Meretz – 6, Balad and Ra’am – 5, and Hadash with Ahmed Tibi’s Ta’al – 6.
Eli Yishai’s new party, Yachad (Together), would not cross the electoral threshold, according to the poll, and neither would Kadima.
The Israel Radio poll had a 4.2% margin of error.
The Maariv poll’s full results Friday were (without a joint Arab party): Labor/Hatnua 24 seats, Likud 23, Jewish Home 17, Yesh Atid 11, United Torah Judaism 7, Meretz 7, Kulanu 7, Ra’am-Ta’al 6, Yisrael Beytenu 5, Hadash 5, Eli Yishai’s party 4, Shas 4 — with Balad and Kadima not passing the electoral threshold.
Meanwhile, retired IDF general Yom-Tov Samia announced that he is in discussions with Herzog to run with Labor for the Knesset. Samia is a former head of the IDF’s Southern Command. Labor has been seeking to bolster its Knesset slate with candidates who could boost its credibility on security matters.