Zionist Union would wither to 8 Knesset seats if ex-IDF chief runs — poll
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Zionist Union would wither to 8 Knesset seats if ex-IDF chief runs — poll

Channel 10 survey finds current main opposition party shrinking to historic low should Benny Gantz throw his hat in ring

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (L) seen with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni (R) at a ceremony at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (L) seen with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni (R) at a ceremony at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The Zionist Union political party could shrivel to become one of the smallest factions in the Knesset should former military chief Benny Gantz enter politics, a survey published Thursday found.

The opposition-leading faction, a combination of the Labor and Hatnua parties, would garner only eight seats should Gantz form a new party and run for the Knesset, according to the Channel 10 poll.

The showing would be a historical low for Labor, at one-time a juggernaut of Israeli politics which ran the state nearly uncontested until the 1970s but which has seen its fortunes fall in recent years with the right-wing Likud party ascendant.

According to the survey, a party led by Gantz, who helmed the Israel Defense Forces from 2011 to 2015 and was seen as a moderating figure, would sop up 13 Knessets seats, snatching votes from parties across the political spectrum.

Labor chairman Avi Gabbay (r) and Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni attend a Zionist Union faction meeting on July 24, 2017. (Miriam Alster)

The figure would place the hypothetical party tied with the Joint (Arab) List as the second largest faction after Likud, which would also weaken slightly.

Should Gantz not enter politics, Zionist Union would still shrink to 11 seats, and Likud would remain in power with 31 seats, according to the survey, which dovetails closely to other polls published recently.

A poll published earlier this week by the Hadashot news channel found Gantz grabbing 12 seats in a hypothetical run.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on October 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Elections are currently slated for fall 2019, though many analysts believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call a snap election before then.

Most polls in recent months have shown the prime minister’s party maintaining power, and even gaining, despite corruption investigations against Netanyahu.

Speculation over Gantz’s political future has swirled this year with the expiration of his legally required “cooling off” period, under which former top security officials must wait three years after retiring before entering politics.

Defense Ministry Moshe Ya’alon IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visit the IDF’s Gaza Division on June 10, 2014. (photo credit: Defense Ministry/FLASH90)

Gantz, 59, left the military in 2015 after a four-year stint as IDF chief that saw him command the 2014 Gaza war.

Though Gantz has yet to formally announce his entry to politics, reports have indicated he has decided to do so and will probably set up his own party rather than join an existing center-left or centrist faction.

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