Israel elections 2019

Poll shows Likud-led coalition winning out whether or not Gantz and Lapid merge

Survey indicates centrist alliance would only weaken the right wing by a single vote, leaving Netanyahu and his allies well placed to form a coalition even without Jewish Home

Illustrative: A man watches Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a speech on television screens at a shop in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2009. (AP/Bernat Armangue/File)
Illustrative: A man watches Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a speech on television screens at a shop in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2009. (AP/Bernat Armangue/File)

A poll published late Saturday shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remaining best placed to form a government even if his chief rivals join forces ahead of April’s elections.

The poll, published by Channel 12 news, is the latest to show the center and left failing to overtake a right-wing government even if they should overcome their differences and unite, with intensive talks taking place between various parties ahead of this month’s deadline to finalize party tickets.

A party led by Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi would lead the voting with 36 seats were elections held now, according to the survey.

While that number easily beats out the 32 seats snagged by Netanyahu’s Likud party in that scenario, it leaves the centrist alliance with few natural allies on the left with which to form a coalition.

In that scenario, the Labor party would get five seats and Meretz another five, leaving the bloc well short of the 61 seats needed to form a government unless right-center Kulanu or the ultra-Orthodox switch sides, even with the tacit support of the 12 Arab representatives seen getting into the Knesset.

Should Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party opt not to join the already formed alliance between Gantz’s Israel Resilience and Ya’alon’s Telem, the center and left would still have trouble forming a coalition.

In that scenario, Israel Resilience would get 22, Yesh Atid 11, Labor 7 and Meretz 5, leaving it in essentially the same position.

In both scenarios, Likud is seen getting 32 seats, New Right 8, UTJ 7, Ahmed Tibi’s Ta’al 7, Shas 6, the Joint (Arab) List 5 and Kulanu 5. In the case of a unity agreement between Gantz and Lapid, right-wing Yisrael Beytenu would get four seats, whereas they would gain one should the parties run apart.

Parties have until February 21 to submit their finalized slates for Knesset, but intensive talks between Gantz and Lapid have reportedly hit serious roadbumps over the question of who will lead the joint faction.

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

Gabi Ashkenazi, who like Gantz and Ya’alon is a former Israeli military chief, has said he will join the faction if Lapid and Gantz find a way to work together.

Both scenarios show the Jewish Home-National Union alliance, as well as Gesher, headed by Orly Levy Abukasis, and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua failing to gain the 3.25 percent of votes necessary to enter the Knesset, depriving both the right and left-center of possible allies.

The poll was conducted on February 7, before Saturday night’s announcement that talks between Jewish Home and National Union had hit a dead end. The parties are seen as having even less a chance of entering the Knesset should they run separately. Netanyahu has been urging them to join up together with the far right Otzma Yehudit to increase their chances of entering the halls of power.

Head of the Jewish Home party Rabbi Rafi Peretz arrives to the party’s preliminary elections in Ramat Gan on February 4, 2019. (Flash90)

The survey of 503 likely voters representative of Israeli demographics was conducted by the Midgam polling firm with cooperation from iPanel, which does online polling. It has a margin of error of 4.4%, according to Channel 12.

While horse-race polls are an almost daily occurrence in Israel in the months 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.

A poll published by Channel 13 on Thursday also indicated that a Gantz-Lapid alliance would not see the center-left win enough seats to block another right-wing Likud-led government, and that the center and the left would fare better as a bloc if Gantz instead united with Levy-Abekasis, and the left-wing Labor merged with the far-left Meretz.

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