Netanyahu still preferred as Likud leader by wide margin of 86%: Survey

After Yuli Edelstein announced he would run for party head whenever primaries are held, a snap survey says he’d receive only 6% of the vote.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Some 86% of Likud members would vote for Benjamin Netanyahu to remain their party’s leader, a Channel 12 survey showed Tuesday.

The poll, taken immediately after former cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein declared Monday his intention to challenge Netanyahu whenever primaries would be held, had Edelstein supported by only six percent of those questioned.

The survey also showed that support for the Likud, now in the opposition, would rise under the current head to 34 mandates if elections were held now. Under Edelstein’s leadership, the Likud would fall drastically to 20 seats.

Edelstein rejected the conclusion that he would therefore have no chance of forming a coalition, tweeting, “The Channel 12 survey publicized tonight proves clearly what I said yesterday. Under me, the Likud can already establish a fully right-wing government tomorrow morning…. If we don’t already do what is necessary, the Likud will remain outside!”

The survey numbers seem to back up his claim. Although the Likud would be weaker with him as No. 1, there are more than enough partners among the right-wing and religious parties to make up the difference. This is if Edelstein was correct when he said that the only impediment over the last four elections was that Netanyahu headed the party.

The leaders of Yamina (eight projected seats), Yisrael Beytenu (5), and New Hope (4), all said during those post-election negotiations that they would enter a Likud-led government if Netanyahu, who had been indicted in three corruption cases, would step down. If they would keep their word with Edelstein at the top, they would join the national-religious (11) and two ultra-Orthodox (haredi) parties (19) to create a solid majority of 67 seats in the Knesset.

There could even be a chance that Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, with 11 projected mandates, would join, leading to an unheard-of 78-seat super-majority.

If Netanyahu led the Likud, he would only be able to count on the religious comrades he had in the previous four elections, giving the group 56 seats in all. Perhaps surprisingly, 68% of Likud respondents did not agree with Edelstein’s claim that the party could not return to rule the country if Netanyahu remained its leader.

Nevertheless, the current right-center-left-Arab coalition whose main glue was dubbed “Just not Bibi (Netanyahu’s nickname),” would not prevail either according to the poll, receiving a total of only 58 seats. This indicates a loss of public support that the super-slim 61-seat government cannot afford.