A television poll released Friday indicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would remain the largest party in the Knesset if early elections are held, with surging support for the premier’s right-wing rival Naftali Bennett apparently leveling off.
According to the Channel 12 survey, Likud would pick up 30 seats if elections were held today, down from the 36 it now has but up from recent surveys. The poll gave 20 seats to Bennett’s Yamina, way up from its current tally of five though slightly less than other recent surveys.
The survey was conducted by pollster Manu Geva. The network didn’t say how many respondents there were or what the margin of error was.
According to the poll, trailing Yamina was opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid-Telem alliance with 18 seats, followed by the predominantly Arab Joint List with 13.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, which has hemorrhaged support in the polls since he agreed to join a government led by Netanyahu after pledging not to do during three consecutive election campaigns, was predicted to get nine seats, down from 14.
The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism received eight seats apiece in the poll, as did MK Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu party.
The left-wing Meretz party won six seats, while none of the remaining parties in the Knesset — Labor, Jewish Home, Derech Eretz and Gesher — were forecast to clear the minimum voting threshold.
Right-wing and religious parties together would have 66 seats, enough for a majority in the 120 seat Knesset if Yamina were to back Netanyahu for premier as it has previously done. However, Bennett has made plain in recent weeks that such support is not automatic, and his party is backing him as potential prime minister.
The network also asked how Israelis would vote if Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton launched their own parties. Huldai, a member of Labor, has been mayor of the coastal city since 1998. Shasha-Biton heads the Knesset Coronavirus Committee and has enjoyed increasing popularity for her criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic.
If the two were to run, Likud would get 28 seats; Yamina 18; Yesh Atid 15; Blue and White seven; Huldai’s party seven; and Shasha-Biton’s five.
A pair of polls published Tuesday night also showed Likud remaining the largest party in the Knesset, though one survey gave Yamina a shot at forming a coalition without it.
The Kan broadcaster’s poll gave Likud 31 seats and Yamina 21, followed by Yesh Atid with 17. The Joint List got 11 seats; and Blue and White received nine seats. Also with nine seats were Shas and Yisrael Beytenu, while UTJ snagged seven and Meretz six.
A separate poll from Channel 13 showed a closer contest, with Netanyahu maintaining a 27-23 seat advantage over Bennett. The poll gave Yesh Atid 20 seats, the Joint List 11, and Blue and White 10. Yisrael Beytenu gained eight seats, Shas and UTJ seven and Meretz six.
The Channel 13 numbers showed that Bennett could potentially form a narrow right-center coalition with Yesh Atid, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu. In that long-shot instance, Bennett would likely be prime minister.
Some polls in past weeks have shown Bennett’s Yamina gaining on Netanyahu, who has seen his Likud party fall to as low as 23 seats.
The surveys came amid growing speculation of new elections, with a Blue and White minister saying Thursday there was a “good chance” his party would vote in favor of a motion of no confidence in the government, toppling the coalition and setting the country formally on the path to elections.
Science Minister Yizhar Shay was the second minister from Blue and White to comment on the matter after Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper told Channel 12 the party was mulling voting in favor of disbanding the parliament.
In a move aimed at pressuring the centrist Blue and White to break ranks with the coalition amid an ongoing deterioration of relations within the government, Lapid said on Monday that he would again present a proposal next week to disperse the Knesset and call new elections.
Gantz has refused to say if his party will support the bill. The party has been reportedly weighing putting forward its own bill to disperse the Knesset to avoid handing Yesh Atid credit for the move. Lapid’s bill would likely fail without Blue and White’s support.
Netanyahu said this week there was “no doubt” that the prospect of early elections — the fourth in two years — was growing, and blamed Blue and White for breaching coalition agreements, which is precisely the accusation Blue and White levels at Netanyahu.