A television poll aired Friday indicates the ruling Likud party and opposition Blue and White are neck-and-neck ahead of upcoming elections, with neither having a clear path to form a government without Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.
According to Channel 12 news, Netanyahu’s Likud would win 30 seats if elections were held today, as would former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Blue and White. Both parties received 35 seats in the April 9 elections.
The Channel 12 survey was conducted by the Midgam polling agency and was made up of 507 respondents. It had a 4.4% margin of error and was carried out on Thursday, a day before the deadly terror attack in the West Bank that killed Rina Shnerb, 17.
At 11 seats apiece in the survey were the Joint (Arab) List and right-wing Yamina, a collection of national-religious parties headed by former justice minister Ayelet Shaked.
Yisrael Beytenu was forecast to win 10 seats, doubling the party’s current total.
United Torah Judaism scored eight seats in the poll, while fellow ultra-Orthodox Shas party got seven, as did the left-wing Democratic Camp alliance.
Rounding out the poll with six seats was the Labor Party, which in these elections is running with former MK Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher.
Zehut and Otzma Yehudit, a pair of far-right parties, got 2.3 and 1.9 percent respectively in the poll, short of the 3.25% percent minimum voting threshold needed to enter the Knesset.
Along with Yamina and the ultra-Orthodox parties, Likud would have 56 seats in a right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc, two more than the center-left-Arab bloc headed by Blue and White together with the Joint List, Democratic and Labor-Gesher.
With 61 seats needed for a ruling majority, neither bloc could put together a coalition without Liberman, who is pushing for a national unity government of Yisrael Beytenu, Likud and Blue and White.
Liberman has again emerged as a potential kingmaker since a snap poll was called after elections in April, when Netanyahu came up one seat short of a majority because Yisrael Beytenu would not join up.
Liberman refused to enter a Netanyahu-led coalition unless a bill formalizing exemptions to mandatory military service for seminary students was passed without changes, a demand rejected by the ultra-Orthodox parties in the prospective government.
Rather than let another lawmaker get a shot at assembling a coalition, Netanyahu pushed through a vote to dissolve the Knesset and call a fresh vote, marking the first time in Israeli history that an election failed to produce a government.
With recent surveys consistently showing neither Likud nor Blue and White is likely able to form a government without Liberman, Israel’s political gridlock could continue unless the two parties consent to his proposed unity government or find an alternative path to a majority without Yisrael Beytenu.
Netanyahu has rejected Liberman’s proposal, while Gantz has said he’s open to sitting in a government with Likud if it dumps the prime minister, who is facing indictment in three corruption cases.