Polls taken a day after former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s well-received debut speech as leader of the Israel Resilience party showed that a merger between Gantz and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party could oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office.
A poll conducted for Israeli news site Walla showed that a Gantz-Lapid party — joined by another ex-IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi — would win 33 seats in the April 9 Knesset elections, while Netanyahu’s Likud would fall to 27 from its current total of 30.
The other major parties would be the New Right (seven seats), Labor (six), Kulanu (five), and Yisrael Beiteinu (five). The Arab parties would win 13 seats, while the Haredi parties would take 11.
According to the poll, this would be enough to send Netanyahu home, as it would give the center-left bloc a slim majority of 61 seats, compared to 59 for the center-right.
If Gantz and Lapid did not unite, however, Netanyahu would certainly win and continue on as prime minister, the poll indicated. In this scenario, Israel Resilience was still gaining, with 19 seats, but Likud would win 29 and be easily poised to form a center-right coalition.
A poll conducted for Israeli news outlet Hadashot showed similar, but not identical, results. If Gantz and Lapid joined forces, they would receive 35 seats, five more than Likud. The right, however, would remain the largest bloc, with 48 seats, as opposed to the center-left with 44, making it difficult for either side to establish a government.
Another encouraging sign for Gantz revealed by the Hadashot poll was that he has essentially pulled even with Netanyahu regarding who the public sees as most suited to be prime minister. Netanyahu notched 36 percent, while Gantz came in at 35 percent, well within the margin of error.
The Hadashot poll found that, if Gantz and Lapid did not run together, Netanyahu would win 30 seats to Israel Resilience’s 21 — which still shows a sharp rise in Gantz’s standing. Yesh Atid would take 11, the New Right seven, Labor six and Kulanu five. The religious and Arab parties would win 12 seats, respectively.
In terms of blocs, the right would still come out ahead with 50 seats, as opposed to the left’s 42. Given the religious parties’ usual preference for a right-wing government, this would allow Netanyahu to form a slim but workable coalition of at least 62 seats.
The Algemeiner (c) 2018 . Benjamin Kerstein