New elections poll shows PM holding onto majority, but only just
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New elections poll shows PM holding onto majority, but only just

Survey indicates Netanyahu would have enough votes in Knesset to keep him in power if vote held today, but right-wing bloc shrinks to razor-thin lead

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (third from right) presides over the weekly cabinet meeting  at the PM's office in Jerusalem, October 15, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (third from right) presides over the weekly cabinet meeting at the PM's office in Jerusalem, October 15, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

A new political poll has indicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could still form a ruling coalition if elections were held today, though with a far more tenuous hold on power.

The iPanel poll conducted for Hadashot news shows Likud winning 24 seats in the Knesset, a drop of six seats from its current 30. However, it has the legislature’s right-wing bloc maintaining a razor-thin 61-59 majority — an improvement on a Channel 10 poll earlier this month which showed that the opposition could potentially win enough seats to prevent Netanyahu from forming the next government.

The Hadashot poll had the centrist Yesh Atid party at 22 seats (currently 11), followed by the Zionist Union, under new leader Avi Gabbay, with 18 (now 24). The Joint (Arab) List would win 12 seats (down from 13), tying with Jewish Home (up from 8). These would be followed by United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beytenu and Meretz with 7 each (a slight improvement for all three from 6, 6 and 5 respectively). Bringing up the rear would be Kulanu at 6 (down from 10 today) and Shas at 5 (down from 7).

Though the most recent survey is an improvement for Netanyahu in that his current coalition partners could keep him in power, it also saw a drop in support for Likud from the previous poll, which showed the premier’s party winning 26 seats.

It would also indicate a serious erosion of the right-wing bloc, which currently holds a total of 67 seats.

A general election is currently set for November 2019, but with Netanyahu under investigation for a raft of scandals, some analysts believe it may come sooner than planned.

The leaders of several coalition parties on Monday warned of the prospects of early elections amid heightened tensions roiling the government over the so-called police recommendations bill, criminal investigations into its leaders, and a proposal to close mini-markets on Saturdays.

Slamming the Shabbat bill, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman pledged he would not leave the government despite his objections to the proposal, while accusing the ultra-Orthodox parties of paving the way for early elections.

The Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett urged coalition leaders to act “responsibly” to avoid the “unnecessary” elections, while Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon hinted at an exit in saying it was “unpleasant” to be a government minister in a coalition alongside politicians knee-deep in a slew of criminal investigations.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

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