Netanyahu’s Likud nudges higher in opinion poll

The prime minister would win 32 seats in the 120-seat Israeli parliament, according to a poll released by Kan public broadcasting.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

A day after holding a primary election to determine the party’s list for the April 9th Knesset election, the Likud received positive news Wednesday night of a slightly better showing in a public opinion poll.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party would win 32 seats in the 120-seat Israeli parliament, according to a poll released by Kan public broadcasting. A poll aired the same day by Channel 20 television showed the Likud gaining only 30 seats.

Poll results released over the previous week gave the Likud 29 to 31 seats.

The Likud’s closest challenger is the Israel Resilience party, headed by former military chief Benny Gantz. Both Kan and Channel 20 showed his party winning 22 seats. The Yesh Atid party of MK Yair Lapid, a former finance minister, would gain 11 or 12 seats. There have been reports of efforts to bring Lapid’s party into a joint list to run with Israel Resilience, which according to polling, could defeat the Likud.

However, Yesh Atid sources are now denying that Lapid would be drawn into a joint campaign, insisting that he represents the only alternative to replace Netanyahu as prime minister. Gantz will be heading a list that already includes a new party headed by another former military chief, Moshe Ya’alon.

The New Right party of current cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked has lost significant ground since they first announced on December 29th that they were bolting the Jewish Home party. In the immediate aftermath of their move, New Right was gaining support to earn as many as 14 seats, but Wednesday’s Kan poll showed the party with only seven seats.

If center-left lists join forces ahead of the Knesset election, there could be a similar move on the right, according to political observers.

Netanyahu said that he was “very, very” pleased with the results of his party’s primary on Tuesday, though bitter rival Gideon Sa’ar finished high on the party list despite Netanyahu’s call on Likud members not to vote for Sa’ar.

The prime minister reportedly has said that despite Sa’ar’s strong showing in the party election, he would not be appointed to a senior position in the next government if, in fact, Netanyahu is still at the helm.