Poll: Netanyahu gains seats at expense of smaller, right-wing Yemina party

The results appear to be showing a repeat of the trend in which a sizeable number of voters opted for one of the large parties instead of a smaller grouping.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is the strongest party, the Yemina right-wing list has weakened, and former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, continues to earn the title of kingmaker, capable of determining whether Netanyahu or challenger MK Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White, will be given the nod by the president to form the next government, according to the latest Israel Hayom-i24News public opinion poll.

The poll, released five days before election day, shows the Likud winning 33 seats in the 120-member parliament compared to 31 in the previous survey.

Blue and White would win 31, compared to 30 in the previous poll.

The results appear to show a repeat of the trend of the past two Knesset elections, in which a sizeable number of voters opted for one of the larger parties instead of a smaller grouping.

On the right, this has meant a better showing for the Likud and a smaller percentage for Yemina, a merged list of right-wing parties headed by former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, which, in the latest poll, would earn only seven seats.

Yemina has argued that if it does well, a Netanyahu government would be more rightist. The prime minister has countered that if the Likud loses seats, the president would be more likely to choose Gantz to form a government that would be center-left.

On face value, the latest survey shows Gantz with a better chance of forming the next government if he takes the historic step of including Arab non-Zionist parties in his governing coalition.

Liberman’s power stems from the fact that if he were to agree to join a Netanyahu government, the incumbent prime minister would appear to have a firm majority. However, Liberman, a former Netanyahu protege, refused to join such a government after the April election, which led to this unprecedented second Israeli parliamentary ballot in just a matter of months.

The Yisrael Beytenu leader, whose party wins nine seats, according to Thursday’s poll, has traditionally been considered a right-wing politician, however, he is currently basing his campaign on preventing Netanyahu from forming a government which would promote religious coercion.

He says that he would recommend Gantz to the president with the aim of forming a national unity coalition of Likud and Blue and White, which Liberman says he would join.

The wild card in the latest public opinion poll concerns how two lists, one on the right and one on the left will fare on election day.

Jewish Strength on the right and Democratic Union on the left each registered four seats in the survey. With the Israeli law requiring at least 3.25 percent of the vote to enter parliament, each of these two lists run the risk of failing to be included in the upcoming Knesset, with each scenario producing potentially radically different outcomes with regard to who becomes the next Israeli prime minister.