Israel’s Blue & White centrist party led by MK Benny Gantz is increasing its lead over far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, according to a pre-election poll released Friday, December 13, by Israel Hayom, the free newspaper published by the American Republican and pro-Netanyahu billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
If the elections for the 23rd Knesset — scheduled for March 2 — were held today, the Israel Hayom poll said, Blue & White, led by MK Gantz, would win 37 parliamentary seats, up from 33 in the 22nd Knesset, while Likud would drop from its current 32 to 31 MKs.
The same poll foresees that the Joint List would strengthen its representation in the 120-seat parliament from its current 13 to 14 members, while racist Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would match its current tally of 8. The Mizrachi ultra-Orthodox Shas would drop from 9 to 8 seats, according to the poll, while the Ashkenazi Haredi United Torah Judaism party would retain its present 7 MKs. The New Right settler and neo-liberal far-right party, would win 5 seats, up from its current 3 (which it garnered in the September elections as part of the Yamina – Rightward – bloc, which was formed to allow its two component factions to pass the electoral threshold of 4, with a mutual commitment to split after the elections). The center-left Labor-Gesher alliance would retain its current 6 seats, while the left-wing Democratic Camp would drop from 5 to 4 Knesset members.
The racist and national-religious messianic Jewish Home-National Union bloc, (the second half of the larger Yamina bloc from September), would fail to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold, as would the ultra far-right and racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) party.
On Thursday, December 12, Joint List chairman, MK Odeh (Hadash) said that the four parties comprising the list will remain united in the upcoming March 2020 election. “We played an important role in preventing Netanyahu from forming a government and in averting his receiving immunity. We have made it half way there. Now we have another election. We promise our public to stay united as the Joint List,” Odeh says in a statement.
“The upcoming election will be the swan song of the indicted resident of Balfour Street,” added Odeh on Twitter, referring to the prime minister, whose residence is on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. “We will conclude them with an historic achievement of 15 seats,” he said.
The poll predicts that even in the currently unlikely scenario that the Likud were to switch leaders by toppling Netanyahu and replacing him with the latter’s rival Gideon Sa’ar following the internal primaries to be held on December 26, the party would fare no better, and would only get 29 Knesset seats in the March 2 elections.