Poll: New Likud breakoff party predicted to become 2nd largest in Knesset

The New Hope party is projected to win 21 seats in the Knesset, second only to the Likud’s 27 seats.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

According to a poll released by Israel’s Channel 12 News on Tuesday evening, Gideon Sa’ar’s new right-wing party, New Hope, would become the second largest party in the Knesset if elections were held today.

Sa’ar, a longtime member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and once considered a successor to Netanyahu, announced in early December that he was launching a new political party.

In his resignation speech from Likud, Sa’ar said, “Likud has changed its character dramatically in recent years. I can no longer support the Netanyahu-led government or be a member of a Likud party led by him… Today, Israel needs unity and stability — Netanyahu can offer neither.”

The New Hope party is projected to win 21 seats in the Knesset, second only to the Likud’s 27 seats. Center-left party Yesh Atid-Telem would come in as the third-largest party with 14 seats and right-wing Yemina, led by Netanyahu critic Naftali Bennett, would win 13 seats.

New Hope’s poll numbers were likely boosted by the announcement that rebel Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, an outspoken critic of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, would be joining the party. Sa’ar is expected to place her second on New Hope’s list.

The poll found that 33 percent of respondents felt that Netanyahu is the most qualified candidate for prime minister, with Sa’ar trailing behind at 18 percent. Bennett was thought to be most qualified by nine percent of respondents, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid at eight percent, and alternate prime minister and current Defense Minister Benny Gantz with seven percent.

Eighteen percent of respondents said they felt none of the candidates were qualified to serve as the prime minister of Israel.

If the polls are correct, this may mean that the next round of elections has the potential to oust Netanyahu from power. Israel is expected to hold its fourth round of general elections in a two-year period in March 2021.