Heading into the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can feel confident about his chances in the April parliamentary election, despite dramatic moves involving other parties and reports that a decision will be announced by the attorney general before the election over whether the prime minister will face indictment for alleged political corruption.
A public opinion poll released Wednesday by Kan public television and radio shows his Likud winning 28 seats. It’s a bit less than the 30 seats that the party now holds in the 120-seat parliament. But consider this: the closest party to the Likud in the opinion poll is the just-formed Israel Resilience, headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz with just half of the Likud’s power, 14 seats.
This is where the race starts getting close. Right behind Gantz is MK Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party with 13 seats, followed by a combined non-Zionist faction called the Joint List with 12. They are followed by the just-announced New Right party headed by cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. The two bolted their top positions in the Jewish Home party which, according to this poll, would not win any seats in the upcoming election.
Next in line are three parties with seven seats each: Labor, running without Hatnua, Kulanu headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and United Torah Judaism. Labor leader Avi Gabbay’s decision to break the alliance with Hatnua leaves the latter with no seats, according to this survey. There is also a three-way tie with six seats: Meretz, Gesher, and Shas. Trailing behind as the smallest Knesset faction would be Yisrael Beiteinu headed by MK Avigdor Liberman, who resigned in November as defense minister.
Though this poll shows a tremendous lead for the Likud, it means that if an election were held now, Netanyahu would again need a number of parties to join a coalition that represents a majority of the Knesset.
In a related development, JNS reported that Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced his new party name on Wednesday, called “Telem,” an acronym for “National Statesmanlike Movement.”
“This is a holiday for me in which the citizens of Israel are being given good news, and my colleagues and I are being given hope and tremendous responsibility,” he said.
Without describing a specific platform, Ya’alon added that his new party would be an “independent political force” and put the “country back on the right track.”
This move ahead of the April elections mirrors former Defense Minister and Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, who led Israel to victory in the 1967 Six-Day War and founded a party with the same name in 1981, winning two seats in June of that year. Dayan died four months later.
Although the latest polling has suggested Yaalon would fail to clear the 3.25 percent minimum vote threshold needed to enter the Knesset, he has reportedly been talking to former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to form an electoral partnership, considering the latter has performed well in recent polls.
There are also reports Labor chief Avi Gabbay, whose party ended its alliance with the Zionist Union, might run jointly with Yaalon.
Ya’alon said he would not join a coalition led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is favored to win re-election.
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