ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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New poll shows anti-Netanyahu bloc with 75 seats, Smotrich on the brink

In Channel 12 survey, Gantz’s National Unity party receives 37 seats, with Netanyahu’s Likud at 18; majority of public wants early elections

War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz (standing), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center), and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz (standing), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center), and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The latest national poll by Channel 12 news Sunday indicated that the current opposition, along with Benny Gantz’s National Unity party (previously in the opposition but now a member of the emergency government), could secure 75 of the Knesset’s 120 seats if elections were held today, with the bloc loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu far behind at 45.

Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition saw an increase from 64 to 78 seats after forming a wartime unity government that included the National Unity party. However, Gantz and his party oppose many of the Netanyahu bloc’s policies and have said they will not remain in the coalition beyond the war.

The poll projects Gantz’s party with 37 seats, while Netanyahu’s Likud party is at 18 seats — unchanged from the results of a previous Channel 12 poll.

The most significant change in the poll was that far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party does not pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold necessary to enter the Knesset. Last election, Smotrich, running on a joint ticket with ultranationalist Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party, received 14 seats. Current polls have the two running separately. Ben Gvir received nine seats in Saturday’s poll, one more than a previous poll.

Conversely, a Channel 13 poll also conducted on Sunday found Ben Gvir and Smotrich would receive eight and six seats respectively, aligning with their combined total in the previous election.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party received 15 seats in the Channel 12 poll, Aryeh Deri’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party was at 11, and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu had 9. Channel 13’s findings slightly differed, awarding Lapid 13 seats, Liberman 10, and Deri 9.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (center) with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (left) at the ‘victory conference’ at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Haredi United Torah Judaism party remained at 7 seats in both polls. Meretz and Arab lists Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al all received 5. In the Channel 13 poll, those parties each received 4 seats.

When questioned in the Channel 12 poll on suitability for prime minister, 43% preferred Gantz over Netanyahu, who received 27% of support when the two were compared head to head. When paired off with Lapid, Netanyahu was favored by 31% to Lapid’s 25%, with 39% of respondents finding neither candidate suitable.

As a public campaign for early elections gains traction, the Channel 12 poll asked respondents whether elections should be advanced. A majority of respondents – 51% – said a vote should take place early, while 39% said it shouldn’t and 10% said they do not know. Among supporters of the parties in Netanyahu’s right-wing and Haredi bloc, 20% of respondents said elections should be called and 68% said they shouldn’t. Among supporters of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, 81% of respondents said elections should be called while 13% said they shouldn’t. The next general elections are formally scheduled for October 2026.

Regarding whether or not the National Unity party should remain in the wartime government, 31% of respondents said Gantz should withdraw his party from the coalition, 43% said he should remain and 26% said that they do not know. Among supporters of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, 40% supported Gantz remaining in the government, while 36% backed his departure.

Respondents were also asked by Channel 12 whether they support a new bill on military service that would increase the length of mandatory conscription for men from 32 to 36 months and raise the age of exemption from reserve duty from 40 to 46, all while maintaining the draft exemption that the Haredi community largely receives. The bill faced opposition from 53% of respondents, with only 26% in support.

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