The Likud party narrowly edged past its key election rival, the Blue and White party, and was predicted to win the most Knesset seats in the coming elections, according to an opinion poll published Sunday by the Kan public broadcaster.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing party would win 31 seats if elections were held today, the online survey of 583 respondents found. Blue and White, led by ex-army chief Benny Gantz, would win 30 seats, according to the poll.
It marked the first time that Likud has come out on top in a poll since Blue and White was formed last month, when Gantz merged his Israel Resilience party with the Yesh Atid party led by MK Yair Lapid. The alliance also includes the Telem party, which was formed by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
The next largest party, the poll predicted, would be Labor, with nine seats, followed by an Arab party, Hadash-Ta’al, with eight seats.
Five other parties — the New Right, the left-wing Meretz party, the national-religious Union of Right Wing Parties, and ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas — were all predicted to win six seats.
Yisrael Beytenu, led by hawkish former defense minister Avigdor Liberman was predicted to win four seats, as was Zehut, a party riding a wave popularity by making legalization of cannabis a central plank of its campaign. Another Arab party, Balad-Ra’am was also given four seats in the poll.
The Kulanu party of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was predicted to fall under the Knesset threshold of 3.25%.
The results indicated that Netanyahu would be best positioned to form the next government at the head of right-wing bloc which, together with ultra-Orthodox parties, would have 63 out of the 120 Knesset seats after the upcoming April 9 elections.
Gantz would have just 45 seats among the centrist or left-wing parties and even with the support of the combined 12 seats from Arab parties could still only muster a total of 57 seats.
A Channel 12 TV poll published earlier in the week gave Blue and White 31 seats and Likud just 28. In that poll, Kulanu, the New Right, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu, Zehut, and Ra’am-Balad were all predicted to win four seats, Labor 10, followed by Hadash-Ta’al, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, and the Union of Right-wing Parties, all with seven seats each. Shas would win six seats, the poll found.
The Kan poll also sampled opinions on a recent spat between Likud and Blue and White over a report last week that claimed Iran had hacked into Gantz’s cellphone.
Gantz has called the leak “political gossip,” noting that the Likud party was jumping on the news as fodder for campaign videos. The Blue and White party called on the attorney general to investigate the leak, while pointing a finger of suspicion at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Blue and White noted in the three days since the Thursday report that if it was accurate, the information could only have come from intelligence agencies or the civilian National Cyber Directorate, all of which are under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Asked who they thought was behind the leak, 44 percent of respondents to Sunday’s poll felt that the PMO was the culprit, while 38% said they believed Gantz himself might be the source.
The Kan survey published Sunday was conducted by Direct Polls, sampled 583 people, and has a margin of error of 4.1%