Voters not buying Gabbay’s recent shift rightward, poll indicates
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Voters not buying Gabbay’s recent shift rightward, poll indicates

Labor drops two mandates to 17 seats, while Yesh Atid climbs two seats, tying with Likud for largest party in Knesset

Labor party leader Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on October 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on October 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A poll published Sunday indicated that Labor chairman Avi Gabbay’s recent attempts at catering to more right-wing voters have been unsuccessful and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would still be able to form a right-wing coalition.

Netanyahu’s Likud tied for first place in the new survey with the secular centrist Yesh Atid Party of Yair Lapid, with 24 mandates each, indicating that voters see Lapid as the real alternative to Netanyahu, and not Gabbay.

According to the Channel 10 poll, Gabbay’s Labor party dropped to 17 seats — two seats fewer than the network’s last poll three weeks ago.

Since then, the Labor chairman made headlines when he told a group of students at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba that the left “forgot what it means to be a Jew.” Gabbay tried to walk back the comments the next day, but Sunday’s poll suggested that the damage was done.

In addition to his remarks at Ben-Gurion University, Gabbay made a number of statements last month at odds with the traditional views of the center-left-leaning Labor, including calling West Bank settlers “the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism” and saying he would not evacuate settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also said he would not join a coalition with the Joint (Arab) List.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid attends a a party conference in Tel Aviv, on October 16, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Likud also dropped two seats since Channel 10’s last poll.

But despite Yesh Atid’s tie for first place, the poll indicated that the center-left bloc — with 59 seats — would still be unable to form a coalition. Lapid would ostensibly need the help of the ultra-Orthodox parties, but both Shas chairman Arye Deri and United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman have vowed not to join a coalition led by Yesh Atid.

Netanyahu’s current coalition would be able to form again with a narrow 61 seat majority.

According to the survey, the Jewish Home party climbed one mandate since the last poll to 12 seats, the Joint (Arab) List dropped one mandate to 11 seats, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party rose two mandates to nine seats and the left-wing Meretz party dropped one mandate to seven seats.

Outgoing Health Minister Litzman’s UTJ rose one mandate to seven seats, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu remained at five, and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party remained at four — just passing the electoral threshold, the poll indicated.

Channel 10 surveyed 700 respondents, 599 of them Jewish, with the remaining 101 Arab. The poll had a maximum sampling error of 3.7%.

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