Most prefer a coalition reliant on Ra’am to a fifth election

Poll forecasts 5th elections would yield similar results, continuing deadlock

As TV survey indicates neither side would have clear path to coalition after another round at the polls, Bennett said to be serious about unity government with ‘change bloc’

FILE: Central Election Committee workers count the remaining ballots at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, after the general elections, on March 25, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
FILE: Central Election Committee workers count the remaining ballots at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, after the general elections, on March 25, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A television poll released Saturday suggested that a potential fifth round of elections would produce much the same outcome as March’s election and ongoing political deadlock, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his rivals having a clear path to forming a governing coalition.

The Channel 12 survey also found that most voters — including right-wing voters — prefer a coalition reliant on the Islamic party Ra’am to fifth elections.

The poll predicted Netanyahu’s Likud would be the largest party if elections were held today, with 30 seats, the same number as achieved in the March election.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party picked up 19 seats in the poll, up two seats from March.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party got nine seats, followed by the center-left Labor with eight.

Workers hang an election campaign billboard for the Likud Party showing a portrait of its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, lower right, and opposition party leader Yair Lapid, upper right, next to a billboard of the Yisrael Beitenu Party showing its leader Avigdor Lieberman, in Bnei Brak, Sunday, March 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, the Haredi United Torah Judaism party, right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White would all receive seven seats each if the elections were held today.

The Joint List, an alliance of three majority Arab factions, and the far-right Religious Zionism party both got six seats in the survey.

Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and the left-wing Meretz both got 5 seats. New Hope had polled as high as 21 seats before the March elections, when Sa’ar announced in December 2020 that he was leaving the Likud to challenge Netanyahu, but steadily shed support, ultimately winning 6 seats.

A campaign poster for Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party in Tel Aviv prior to the Israeli general election, on March 18, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Lastly, the Islamist Ra’am party, which broke off from the Joint List, was predicted to win just 4 seats, as it did in March, just above the electoral threshold of 3.25%.

Together, parties opposed to Netanyahu would have 61 seats, a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, provided they came to an agreement to sit together, a major issue currently surrounding the March results.

The poll gave Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc 52 seats, which would grow to 59 if Yamina were to join, and a majority in the Knesset if the Islamist Ra’am party would as well — exactly like the current situation.

The poll found that most Israelis — including a majority of right-wing voters — prefer the formation of a government reliant on the Islamist Ra’am party to a fifth round of elections.

Among all respondents, 54 percent said they prefer a coalition that would be sworn in with Ra’am’s support or abstention rather than going to the polls again. For right-wingers, those figures were 51% and 28%, respectively.

If a government is to be formed with Ra’am’s support or abstention, a slight plurality — 40% — prefer a coalition that sees Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett rotate the premiership, rather than one led by Netanyahu, which 37% prefer.

If fifth elections are held, 43% said they would consider Netanyahu is to blame, followed by 15% who would blame Bennett, 12% New Hope leader Sa’ar and 6% Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.

The pollsters also asked about Netanyahu’s assertion that Bennett didn’t really negotiate with him and the Yamina leader’s claim that the prime minister just wants fifth elections. Asked who they believe, 30% said Bennett, 24% said Netanyahu and 30% said neither.

Likud MK Nir Barkat leads among respondents as the person to lead the ruling party were Netanyahu to step down, the poll found, with 26% backing Barkat, 10% Gilad Erdan, 8% Yuli Edelstein, 5% Israel Katz, 3% Yariv Levin and 1% Miri Regev.

Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas speaks with reporters, April 19, 2021 (Tal Schneider/Zman Yisrael)

When asked what sort of government they would like to see established, 54% of survey respondents said they supported the formation of a coalition with the support of Ra’am, either in the government or outside of it. A quarter said they prefer a fifth round of elections, while the remaining 21% said they did not know what should be done.

The Channel 12 poll was conducted by pollster Mano Geva and had 504 respondents, with a 4.4% margin of error.

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett arrives for coalition talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 8, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meanwhile, sources in the Likud party told Channel 12 on Saturday that if Netanyahu doesn’t agree to a rotation agreement with Naftali Bennett, with the latter going first, the party will end up in the opposition.

Bennett, who has repeatedly said he prefers a right-wing government led by Netanyahu, wrote in a Facebook post on Friday that he was focusing his efforts on setting up a government with the so-called “change bloc” of parties that oppose Netanyahu.

Channel 12 News reported Friday that the parties were at an advanced stage of agreeing on the foundations of the government, including dividing up key portfolios, a move that may prevent a potential fifth round of voting.

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