Netanyahu’s party would win only 27 seats if elections held now, down nine from the current strength.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
A new public opinion poll shows that if elections were held in Israel this week, the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would gain only 27 seats, a drop of nine from what it has now, the Maariv newspaper reported Thursday.
The drop in popularity for Netanyahu’s party comes as a warning sign amid talk in the past week of the country going to elections as Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz squabble over how to draft a new national budget.
Netanyahu wants a short-term budget to get through to the end of 2020, but Gantz is insisting on a two-year plan that would be in place when he is scheduled to take over from Netanyahu and become prime minister in November 2021.
According to the Maariv poll, the centrist Yesh Atid-Telem faction led by Yair Lapid would win 20 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and become the second-largest party after Likud.
Although the right-wing Yamina faction continues the upward trend and is in third place with 18 seats, a right-wing coalition bloc sought by Netanyahu that would include Yamina and the orthodox Jewish parties would fail to get a majority and win only 60 seats.
Gantz’s Blue and White party would win only 9 seats while the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party is strengthening according to the survey and would also win 9 seats. The religious Shas and United Torah Judaism parties would each win seven seats along with the left-wing Meretz Party. The United List of predominantly Arab parties would win 15 seats.
The Likud has steadily been losing support over the past months since the second wave of coronavirus infections strengthened following the opening of the economy in May.
Israel’s infection rate remains high with threats of a national lockdown that would stifle the already hard-hit economy. Unemployment is hovering around 20 percent.
The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 1,612 new infections in the past 24-hour period with 23,416 active cases in the country. Of the 760 Israelis hospitalized with coronavirus, 386 are in serious condition and 114 of them are connected to ventilators.
To date, 643 Israelis have died from the virus.