Poll shows nationalist Jewish Home could be third largest party in Knesset

Channel 2 survey finds secular, traditional and under-40s among Naftali Bennett’s supporters; party could get 12 seats

Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)
Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

The nationalist Jewish Home party will become the third-largest party in the Knesset, a Channel 2 poll released Tuesday predicted.

The poll showed the party would garner 12 seats in the upcoming Knesset elections, placing it behind only Likud-Beytenu, with 35 seats, and Labor, set to receive 19.

Previous surveys showed the party falling in the middle of the pack, with 8-10 seats.

The poll revealed that the jump for Jewish Home would come at the expense of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu alliance and the religious Shas party, set to receive 11 seats.

Overall, the Benjamin Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc would have 67 mandates in total, compared to 53 for the center-left and Arab parties, according to the survey, conducted by the Dahaf Institute.

The poll also found that two-thirds of Jewish Home supporters are under 40 and one-third identify themselves as secular or traditional.

Compared to his rivals, Bennett’s political resume is rather thin. It includes little more than a two-year stint as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, when Netanyahu was in the opposition, and two years at the helm of the Council of Jewish Settlements.

The Haifa native, son of US immigrants, has been hailed by some on the right as “religious Zionism’s new hope” and one of the “most intriguing personalities to recently throw his name into the political ring.”

After serving in an elite army unit, Bennett co-founded Cyota, a start-up providing online security and anti-fraud software. Six years later, he sold the company for $145 million, which, supporters might argue, makes him less prone to corruption.

But potentially more important is that Bennett says he has a realistic plan for how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: annexing the parts of the West Bank that are currently fully controlled by Israel — the areas designated as Area C, covering some 60% of the West Bank territory and home to an estimated 4% of the Palestinian populace.

“The only plan that can be implemented tomorrow is one that talks about applying Israeli sovereignty and law to Area C and offering citizenship to the 48,000 Arabs who live there,” Bennett told The Times of Israel in the summer. “When I announced this breakthrough plan, I was vehemently attacked — by Peace Now, Yair Lapid and the Labor Party, but also by [right-wing politicians] — which means I’m on to something.”

Bennett grew up in a secular home but became religiously observant at a young age, after attending a Chabad Lubavitch summer camp. He served in the army’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit, where he continues to serve in the reserves, holding the rank of major.

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