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Netanyahu, Lapid both strengthen and Michaeli-led Labor crosses threshold — poll

Survey shows that even if rival Yamina were to rejoin the fold, PM would still be short of the 61 seats needed for a ruling majority

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 11, 2020 (left); Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid in December 2019. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 11, 2020 (left); Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid in December 2019. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

A poll released by Channel 13 on Sunday showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and opposition chief Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid both gaining strength, and newly elected Labor leader Merav Michaeli managing to squeak her party past the electoral threshold into the Knesset.

According to the survey, Netanyahu’s Likud would be the largest party with 32 seats if elections were held today, followed by Yesh Atid with 18.

Ex-Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope was forecast to get 14 seats, continuing a recent slide in the polls, while the right-wing Yamina and the predominantly Arab Joint List were each predicted to get 10.

United Torah Judaism would win seven seats and the fellow ultra-Orthodox Shas party would get six, as would the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu.

The poll said Meretz would pick up five seats, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, The Israelis, and Labor would get four apiece. The poll was released as the results of the Labor party primaries were announced, showing Michaeli as the winner.

Together with UTJ and Shas, Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc would get 45 seats. Even if Yamina were to rejoin the fold with its 10 seats after being left out of the last government, the premier would still be well short of the 61 seats needed for a ruling majority.

Netanyahu’s bloc failed to reach 61 seats in the three consecutive elections between April 2019 and March 2020, but parties opposed to the premier were unable to overcome their differences and form a government without him.

Labor MK Merav Michaeli casts her vote for party leader at a polling station in Tel Aviv, on January 24, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

The poll also forecast that if Yesh Atid and The Israelis ran together, they would get 24 seats, but not change the overall dynamic of the race; New Hope would receive 14 seats, Yamina would take 11 seats, there would be nine seats for the Joint List and Shas and United Torah Judaism would each take seven seats. Yisrael Beytenu would win six seats in that scenario and Meretz and Blue and White would each take five, with Labor sinking below the threshold and failing to enter Knesset.

In that scenario, the bloc opposing Netanyahu would take 63 seats and the Netanyahu bloc would hold 46, with Yamina’s 11 seats remaining a possibility for either side.

A second polled scenario saw Lapid join up with ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and a union between The Israelis, Moshe Ya’alon’s center-right Telem, Ofer Shelah’s center-left Tnufa and Labor.

Opposition leader and chairwoman of Hatnua party Tzipi Livni, during a press conference at the Knesset, January 1, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In that scenario, Likud would drop to 31 seats, Lapid and Livni would take 22, New Hope would win 14, Huldai’s union would take nine seats, Yamina and Joint List would also take nine seats each, United Torah Judaism would win seven seats, Shas would take six, Yisrael Beytenu would take five, and Blue and White and Meretz would each take four seats.

Those potential groups would give the anti-Netanyahu bloc 67 seats, and the prime minister and his bloc would have 44. Again, Yamina’s nine seats could go either way.

Elections — the fourth in two years — were called last month after the power-sharing government of Likud and Blue and White failed to agree on a budget by a December 23 deadline. The election will be held on March 23.

The survey was performed by pollster Kamil Fuchs and included 694 respondents, with a 3.7% margin of error.

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