Poll shows key to right-wing government in Bennett’s hands

If Bennett’s Yamina party joins Netanyahu, the right-wing bloc will have 61 seats necessary to form a coalition.

By Mati Tuchfield, Israel Hayom via JNS

It took a while, but the right-wing bloc can now garner 61 Knesset seats on Election Day. On one hand, this is good news for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as it bolsters the right-wing camp’s confidence that what could not be achieved in the last three elections can become reality.

The achievement is even more impressive because this is the case even if the Blue and White, Labor and Meretz parties all make it into the Knesset.

Yet Netanyahu will only have the 61 seats he needs to form a coalition if Yamina head Naftali Bennett agrees to join his government. If Likud’s aggressive anti-Bennett campaign in recent days is any indication, the prime minister doesn’t seem too confident that will happen. After months in which the battles on the right were waged between the Likud and Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party, it looks like another team is poised to take on the leaders in the nationalist camp.

According to an i24News-Israel Hayom poll carried out by the Maagar Mochot Institute, if the elections were to be held today, the Likud would receive 30 Knesset seats. Yesh Atid would receive 18, and Yamina, which has overtaken New Hope for third place, would receive 11 seats.

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New Hope, which appears to be losing momentum, is predicted to garner 10 seats. Shas is predicted to gain eight seats, compared to the United Torah Judaism party’s seven. The Religious Zionism Party is expected to garner five seats.

On the left side of the political field, the Labor Party is predicted to garner six seats and Blue and White five, while Meretz is predicted to just make it into the Knesset with four. The Joint Arab List is predicted to garner nine seats. Neither Ra’am, which recently split from the Joint Arab List, nor Yaron Zeleckha’s Economic Party is expected to make it past the electoral threshold. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party is expected to garner seven seats.

Asked who is best suited to serve as Israel’s leader, Netanyahu continues to lead the pack at 37 percent, followed by Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid at 19 percent. Twenty-one percent of respondents either said they didn’t know or provided other names.

A majority, 53 percent of respondents, said the economy should be the top priority of the next Knesset. The second-most important issue according to respondents was the coronavirus at 18 percent, followed by societal rifts at 15 percent. Just 4 percent of respondents said Iran’s nuclear program and diplomatic issues were a top priority for them.

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Asked who should have the final call on legislation, the Knesset, or the High Court of Justice, 52 percent said the Knesset should have the final say, 38 percent said the Knesset, and 10 percent replied that they didn’t know. Unsurprisingly, an analysis of the results found right-leaning parties tended to prefer the Knesset, while left-wing parties preferred the court. Among New Hope voters, 46 percent said the Knesset should make the final call on legislation.

Netanyahu has held his senior position since 2009, in addition to the three years in which he served as head of state in the 1990s. A majority of respondents, 62 percent, said they were in favor of term limits, while 27 percent said they were opposed. Eleven percent said they didn’t know. Among Likud voters, 55 percent were against term limits, while 32 percent were in favor.

The poll also examined how Israeli voters identify politically.

A majority of respondents said they identified as either right-wing or center-right—37 percent said they would call themselves right-wing, while 21 percent said they were on the center-right.

Twenty percent identified as political centrists, 8 percent as on the center-left, and 11 percent said they identified as leftists.

A majority of secular Israelis also identified with the right, with 28 percent placing themselves fully on the right side of the political map, and 23 percent saying there were on the center-right. Twenty-seven percent of secular Israelis said they were centrists, 13 percent said center-left. Just 7 percent said they were on the left.