On the last weekend before Tuesday’s general election, Israeli media published the final polls for the current election cycle before a four-day moratorium on surveys.
The Zionist Union kept its lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in those polls, with most giving Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s joint list a 3-4 seat edge over its competitor.
A Maariv poll had Zionist Union with 25 and Likud with 21. Yesh Atid was tied with the Joint (Arab) List for 13, with Jewish Home trailing at 11. These were followed by Kulanu 10, Shas 7, United Torah Judaism 6, Meretz and Yachad 5 each, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu dangling over the edge with 4 mandates — the minimum requirement to enter the Knesset.
A Walla News survey was slightly more favorable to Netanyahu, giving Zionist Union only a two-seat lead, with 25 mandates to his 23. The poll gave Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List 12 each, followed by Jewish Home 11, Kulanu 9, Shas and UTJ 7, Yisrael Beytenu 6, and Yachad and Meretz both at a precarious 4.
A Yedioth Ahronoth poll gave Zionist Union 26 Knesset seats over Likud’s 22. Third was the Joint Arab List with 13. Next were Yesh Atid and Jewish Home at 12 each, Kulanu 8, Shas 7, UTJ 6, Yisrael Beytenu and Meretz with 5 each, and Yachad 4.
A Channel 1 poll had Zionist Union at 25, Likud 22, Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List 12 each, Jewish Home 11, Kulanu 9, Shas 8, UTJ 7, Yisrael Beytenu 6, Meretz and Yachad 4.
Netanyahu acknowledged Thursday that “there’s a real danger” he would be ousted as prime minister.
If his Likud party “can’t close the gap in the polls in the next few days,” he told Channel 2 news, “there’s certainly a danger that Tzipi Livni and Herzog will be prime minister,” he added. Still, he said, he didn’t regret calling the elections, “because the [previous] government couldn’t function any more.”
Netanyahu said he was certain, however, that most of the “national camp” and “most of the public” want to keep him in office. He urged those Israelis not to give their votes to other satellite parties. “If they want me as prime minister,” Netanyahu said, “the only certain way of ensuring this is to vote Likud.”
While recent polls have Herzog in the lead, analysts still say Likud has a better chance of forming a coalition in the emerging Knesset map.
Netanyahu has ruled out the notion of sharing the prime ministerial seat in a unity government with the Zionist Union. “I won’t rotate the premiership,” Netanyahu vowed. “It must be prevented.”
Asked if he would quit politics if he loses on March 17, he said: “I’m not dealing with the question of quitting. I’m dealing with winning.”
Herzog said in an interview on the same news program that “I don’t intend to rotate the prime ministership with Netanyahu; I intend to replace him… Netanyahu has acknowledged that he has failed.”
“I intend to win,” Herzog said, urging Israelis to “vote for the Zionist Camp… and enable me to build a strong coalition… If you want change, if you want hope, come with me.”
On the issue of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Herzog said in a Channel 1 interview that the Etzion Bloc of settlements was “as important” as Tel Aviv and that “all the settlement blocs will come under Israeli sovereignty in a permanent accord,” while settlements outside the blocs would have to be evacuated, and there should not be further investment in them.
Also Thursday, former president and prime minister Shimon Peres threw his support behind Herzog for prime minister. In a statement announcing his endorsement, Peres, who spent most of his political career in the Labor Party, hailed Herzog as a “levelheaded leader who is reliable, and full of responsibility and dedication to the Israeli public.”
In response, the Likud party said in a statement: “It’s obvious that Peres, an avowed leftist, supports [Herzog] and Tzipi. He is the architect of the Oslo Accords, an enthusiastic supporter of the disengagement, and a proponent of withdrawal from the West Bank.”