Survey shows Gantz’s popularity holding steady week after campaign launch
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Survey shows Gantz’s popularity holding steady week after campaign launch

Former IDF chief’s new Israel Resilience party projected to win 22 seats in April’s elections, second only to Likud’s 30

Benny Gantz, head of the 'Israel Resilience' party, seen during an electoral campaign tour in Rishon Lezion on February 1, 2019. (Flash90)
Benny Gantz, head of the 'Israel Resilience' party, seen during an electoral campaign tour in Rishon Lezion on February 1, 2019. (Flash90)

A poll published Monday showed Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party sustaining a surge in popularity almost a week after the former general’s campaign launch placed him as a serious challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The survey, published by the Haaretz newspaper and conducted by Dialog, showed that, should elections be held now, Israel Resilience would win 22 seats in the Knesset.

However, the numbers show Netanyahu still the best positioned to form a governing coalition with a smattering of smaller parties on the right, with his Likud Party holding steady at 30 seats.

According to the poll, Yesh Atid would get 9, The New Right and Joint (Arab) List 7 each, Jewish Home and United Torah Judaism 6 each, Labour, Raam-Ta’aal, Shas, Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu 5 each, and Meretz and Gesher 4 each.

Following his keynote speech at Israel Resilience’s inaugural rally last Tuesday, opinion polls conducted by Israel’s three main television stations showed Gantz’s party, which he formed just last month, could win 19 to 24 seats in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Before last week, Israel Resilience was slated to win between 12-15 seats.

Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing Likud party, which currently holds a quarter of the Knesset seats, has been projected to win 30 or 31 seats in recent opinion polls. Monday’s Haaretz-Dialog poll showed Likud maintaining its voter base.

Should the other numbers hold steady, Netanyahu would be able to form a nearly identical governing coalition to the one he broke up in December when he called new elections.

That calculus could change, though, should any of the smaller parties fall below the threshold of 3.25 percent of the popular vote, and Netanyahu has begun urging smaller parties on the right to merge in order to pool their electoral strength and ensure they get into the Knesset.

Netanyahu has also expressed worries of a merger between Gantz and Yesh Atid, which polls show surpassing Likud.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the CyberTech conference on January 29, 2019, in Tel Aviv (Gilad Kavalerchik)

Talks have recently intensified between the two centrist parties ahead of a February 21 deadline to file their list of candidates with the Central Elections Committee, after which the parties cannot merge or change the order of candidates.

Rumors abound of mergers between the smaller parties both on the left and on the right, while previous talk of a merger of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties appears to have been quashed for now.

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