Opinion polls predict continued deadlock after upcoming elections
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Opinion polls predict continued deadlock after upcoming elections

As one survey finds Blue and White widening lead over Likud, another shows gap narrowing; neither Netanyahu nor Gantz seen within reach of securing majority to form government

Israeli children accompany their father in a polling booth during Knesset elections at a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin, on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: Children accompany their father at a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin for Knesset elections on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

A poll released Monday showed the centrist Blue and White party increasing its edge over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, while another survey showed the gap between the two largest parties closing. Both polls predicted continued deadlock, which has resulted in two failures to yield a government and three elections within a year.

The Channel 13 poll, commissioned by Prof. Camil Fuchs and published two weeks before the March 2 vote, showed Blue and White winning 36 Knesset seats, while Likud would come second with 33. The Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties was shown to get 14, the left-wing Labor-Gesher-Meretz 8, while the right-wing Yamina and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties were predicted to pick up seven seats apiece.

The overall bloc of religious and right-wing parties supporting Netanyahu was projected to get 54 of the 120 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc led by Blue and White chief MK Benny Gantz had 58 — including the mainly Arab Joint List, which is not likely to support a Gantz government.

Kingmaker Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu party scored 8 seats in the television survey, enough to push either side above the necessary 61 seats.

The extreme-right Otzma Yehudit party was predicted to get just 1.9 percent of the votes, well short of the 3.25% electoral threshold.

Asked who is more suited to be prime minister, 45% answered Netanyahu while 33% said Gantz — the biggest discrepancy the channel has recorded in recent months.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz at a memorial ceremony marking 24 years since the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in the Knesset on November 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A separate poll published Monday by the Walla news site similarly predicted a continued impasse, with the right-wing religious block at 56 seats — 33 for Likud, 8 each for Shas and UTJ, and 7 for Yamina — and the center-left bloc at 44 — Blue and White with 34 and Labor-Gesher-Meretz with 10 — with Yisrael Beytenu at 7 and the Joint List at 13.

In that survey, conducted by the Midgam institute and including 502 respondents, Otzma Yehudit similarly did not make it into the Knesset and won just 2.5% of the vote.

The Walla survey also found that 54% of respondents were against a Gantz-led minority government supported by the Joint List, even if it would be the only way to prevent fourth elections, while 28% were in favor of the idea.

Among those identified as being right-wing voters, 74% were against a government propped up by the Arab party, while 11% backed it.

Those who identified as center-left showed an opposing trend, with 59% in favor and 22% against.

Asked who is better suited to lead the country, 43% backed Netanyahu compared to 35% supporting Gantz. Another 16% said neither candidate and 6% said they do not know.

Gantz over the weekend vowed that he would not invite the Joint List into any coalition he forms, if he wins the March 2 election. The Joint List has demanded that Gantz reject elements of the Trump peace plan in exchange for its backing, which the Blue and White leader has endorsed.

Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh has also ruled out joining any government that includes Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party.

Two previous votes failed to break the political deadlock between the blocs led by Netanyahu and Gantz. Attempts by both the Likud leader and Blue and White chairman to form a unity government of the two largest parties have also failed.

On Sunday, right-wing and religious parties renewed their pledge to back Netanyahu as prime minister, leading to fears that even the coming vote will not end the political stalemate, unless some MKs in either bloc break ranks.

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