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Elections 2022

Polls see Gantz-Sa’ar party as Israel’s 3rd largest, but election deadlock unbroken

Netanyahu promises ‘full peace agreement’ with Saudi Arabia if elected; Druze Likud MK fumes at low slot for ‘minorities’ representative; Hendel in talks with Shaked

Gideon Sa'ar (left) and Benny Gantz at a Justice Minister ceremony on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)
Gideon Sa'ar (left) and Benny Gantz at a Justice Minister ceremony on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)

The newly announced alliance between the Blue and White and New Hope parties will become the country’s third-largest party, but won’t draw additional support and won’t break the political deadlock between Israel’s pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs, according to two polls broadcast Monday.

A survey by the Kan public broadcaster showed that the partnership between Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s right-wing New Hope would win 14 seats in the November 1 elections. Channel 12’s survey gave the alliance 13 seats.

The two parties, which were both part of the outgoing coalition, hold 14 seats in the now-dispersed Knesset — 8 for Blue and White, and 6 for New Hope. Several polls carried out before they announced their alliance on Sunday, however, had seen New Hope falling close to the 3.25% threshold for Knesset representation.

In Monday’s surveys, neither the outgoing coalition parties, nor the Benjamin Netanyahu-led opposition bloc, were seen mustering a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

According to both Kan and Channel 12, the Netanyahu-led bloc (Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas, United Torah Judaism) would win 59 seats while the parties in the outgoing coalition (Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu, New Hope and Ra’am) would win 55 seats. (The predominantly Arab Joint List is aligned with neither bloc.)

In the Kan survey, the parties scored as follows: Likud, 34; Yesh Atid, 23; Blue and White-New Hope, 14; Religious Zionism, 10; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Joint List, 6; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Labor, 5; Ra’am, 4; Meretz, 4. (Yamina polled below the threshold.)

The results of the Channel 12 poll showed: Likud, 34; Yesh Atid, 23; Blue and White-New Hope, 13; Religious Zionism, 10; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Joint List, 6; Yisrael Beytenu, 6; Labor, 5; Ra’am, 4; Meretz, 4. (Yamina polled below the threshold here too.)

Gantz and Sa’ar met on Monday and vowed to establish a broad coalition following the elections.

“Our goal is to end the political crisis and establish a stable, broad… government that will serve a full term,” Gantz said, with Sa’ar adding that Israel needed a “patriotic” government that could “lead it out of the political crisis and ensure its future.”

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, part of the Derech Eretz faction, which splintered off from the Blue and White party to merge with New Hope in 2020, was not included in Gantz and Sa’ar’s agreement.

Then-Blue and White party MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser seen in the Knesset in Jerusalem, April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Hendel met with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Monday to discuss the option of joining her Yamina party.

Both TV polls showed Yamina falling below the 3.25% electoral threshold. Channel 12 asked respondents how they would vote if Hendel joined Yamina, and projected that the party would still not enter the Knesset.

Channel 12 also asked respondents how they would vote if former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot joined either Yesh Atid or the Gantz-Sa’ar list.

If Eisenkot joined Lapid, the poll indicated that Yesh Atid would rise to 24 seats, while the Gantz and Sa’ar’s slate would remain at 13. If he joined Blue and White and New Hope, it would rise to 15 seats, and Yesh Atid would drop to 21 seats.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hails the collapse of the Bennett-Lapid coalition, at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With nearly four months remaining before Israelis head to the polls, the situation is fluid. And while Israel’s opinion polls can often be unreliable, they do influence the decision-making of politicians and voters, particularly in the run-up to the mid-September deadline when party lists must be finalized.

The Channel 12 poll also found that most of the Israeli public (52 percent) does not think far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir would be a legitimate cabinet appointment, as opposed to 33% who have no problem with him being named a minister.

Bidding for a definitive victory in the fifth elections since April 2019, Netanyahu promised on Monday to establish “full peace agreements” with Saudi Arabia should he be elected prime minister and vowed to sign “additional deals that will bring us closer to the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

He thanked the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, “for his contribution” to the efforts to attain the Abraham Accords, signed during his term, “which truly brought about a new Middle East.”

En route to compiling its list, Netanyahu and MK Israel Katz consulted on the framework of Likud’s election slate Monday and decided that a slot set aside for “minorities” would be moved down from 28 to 44, meaning whoever gets the spot has little chance of making it to the Knesset.

Druze MK Fateen Mulla, who won that slot in the current Knesset, demanded the Likud reverse its decision, calling it “a political terror attack against the minority candidate” and against the Druze community.

The Kan poll was carried out by the KANTAR institute and surveyed 565 people. The Channel 12 poll was carried out by Midgam institute and iPanel and surveyed 506 people. Both polls had a 4.4%% margin of error.

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