Poll shows Gantz would do better to merge with Orly Levy than with Yair Lapid
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Poll shows Gantz would do better to merge with Orly Levy than with Yair Lapid

While a Gantz-Lapid alliance would get more seats, it would harm the rest of the center and left, meaning it would not be able to block Netanyahu forming a right-wing coalition

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid (L) and Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90, Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid (L) and Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90, Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A merger between former IDF chief Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid would garner more Knesset seats than the Likud in upcoming elections, a poll indicated Thursday. However, such a merger would still not see the center-left win enough seats to block another right-wing Likud-led government.

In fact, according to scenarios examined in the Channel 13 News poll, the center and left would fare better as a bloc if Gantz instead united with MK Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher party, and the left-wing Labor merged with the far-left Meretz.

The poll indicated that a united Gantz-Lapid list would win 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, ahead of Likud with 32. But even though this would be the largest party, the alliance could probably still not form a government.

The poll showed the New Right getting nine seats and the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, getting six each in this scenario, while Labor would get only five seats and Meretz and Gesher would fail to cross the electoral threshold (which stands at 3.25 percent of the votes). The Joint (Arab) list would drop to 6 seats. Such an outcome would see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu better placed than the Gantz-Lapid partnership to build a majority coalition, Channel 13 said.

Running separately, the same poll found that Gantz’s Israel Resilience would get 24 seats and Lapid would get 10. However, Meretz would get four seats. In this scenario, Likud would get 32 seats, the New Right would get nine, the Joint (Arab) List seven, MK Ahmed Tibi’s Ta’al would get six,  Shas, UTJ, Jewish Home and Labor would each get five. Israel Beytenu and Kulanu would get four each. Gesher would still fall below the threshold.

Overall in this scenario, the center and left would win at least three more seats than if Gantz and Lapid ran together, according to the poll, which was conducted by Camil Fuchs and had a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

However, chances of a prospective merger between Levy-Abekasis and Gantz appeared to recede Thursday, after she was recorded blasting the Israel Resilience party and appearing to rule out the long-rumored option of joining forces ahead of the April 9 elections.

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis at the Knesset on October 3, 2017 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Levy-Abekasis in 2016 quit Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beytenu party but remained in the parliament as an independent, recently forming Gesher.

Once considered a possible rising star in the upcoming Knesset vote, she has slumped in recent polls and, in some, fallen under the threshold.

Gantz and Levy have been reported to be interested in merging their parties, but in a recording from a closed conference broadcast Thursday by Channel 12, she said Gantz’s party platform was so badly written that her son could have done better when he was 12.

“I went to the party’s platform, it was one-and-a-half lines. My child could express himself better when he was in sixth-grade,” she said. “You aren’t respecting the public when that’s what you write in the platform.”

Levy-Abekasis added that she has received offers from various political parties, from Labor on the left to Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right, and even from Yisrael Beytenu, the party she quit.

“I don’t want to be part of this hypocrisy,” she told the participants. She accused other parties of only caring about security and the position of defense minister, neglecting social issues.

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