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Poll: Netanyahu’s bloc one seat short of majority if Yamina joins

Kan survey, released a day before final polls are allowed before election, says neither the PM nor his rivals have clear path to coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon visit a restaurant in Jerusalem, March 7, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon visit a restaurant in Jerusalem, March 7, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is continuing to see a boost in support ahead of next week’s Knesset elections, but neither the premier nor his political rivals yet have a clear path to forming a government, according to a poll released by the Kan public broadcaster Thursday.

The poll, the network’s last before Tuesday’s election, said Likud would pick up 31 seats if the ballot were held today, one more than the party received in the network’s poll earlier this week. Likud has 36 seats in the outgoing Knesset.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party had 19 seats in the poll, down three from earlier in the week.

Likud’s gain appeared to come at the expense of the rival right-wing Yamina and New Hope parties, each of which received nine seats in the poll, the first time both have fallen to single digits.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on July 29, 2013. Naftali Bennett (left) and Gideon Sa’ar are seated in the foreground. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Joint List, an alliance of three majority-Arab factions, got eight seats in the survey, as did the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Fellow Haredi party United Torah Judaism and the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu got seven seats apiece, while the center-left Labor and far-right Religious Zionism party each got five.

Squeezing past the electoral threshold with four seats each were Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, the left-wing Meretz and the Islamist Ra’am.

The poll, carried out for Kan by the Kantar Institute, included 1,406 respondents and had a 2.6 percent margin of error

Together, Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc of Likud, Shas, UTJ and Religious Zionism had 51 seats, according to the poll. Even if Yamina were to join them, the parties would be short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Parties that have ruled out joining a Netanyahu-led government had 56 seats without Bennett.

Ra’am, which has emerged as a potential kingmaker, split off from the Joint List shortly after elections were called, vowing to take a more pragmatic approach that did not rule out cooperating with any coalition, be it right- or left-wing, in order to advance the interests of Israel’s Arab citizens. Netanyahu has ruled out a coalition relying on Ra’am’s support, however.

While horse-race polls are an almost daily occurrence in Israel in the weeks leading up to elections and are not seen as overly reliable, taken together, the surveys can often serve as a general gauge of the political climate and where the vote may be headed.

Party leaders ahead of the 2021 elections (from left): Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Benjamin Netanyahu, Gideon Sa’ar, Benny Gantz (Courtesy)

Previous surveys have generally predicted political deadlock after the election, with no party having a clear path to assembling a majority coalition.

Final surveys are set to be released Friday, after which new polls are barred from being released under Israeli election laws.

The upcoming elections — the fourth in two years — were called after the power-sharing government of Likud and Blue and White failed to agree on a budget by a December 23 deadline.

The election, like the previous three votes, is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s rule amid his ongoing trial on corruption charges, as well as his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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