Poll shows Likud surge if elections held today

Public opinion poll shows that if elections were held now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party would win 41 seats and be able to form a right-wing majority government.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A poll of Israeli voters showed a surge in support for the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The survey by veteran Israeli pollster Rafi Smith showed that if elections were held in Israel now, the Likud party would come away with 41 seats and its traditional right-wing partners would have enough mandates for Netanyahu to form a right-wing coalition government – something he failed to do in the past three consecutive elections that each produced inconclusive results.

Unable to get 61 seats to form a right-wing majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Netanyahu formed a national unity government last month in a partnership with the opposition Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz.

The 41 seats represents a gain of five seats over the 36 it won this March, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White would lose six seats and win only 10, the poll revealed.

Netanyahu’s previous government partner, the right-wing Yemina party under former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, would gain two seats and have eight members in the Knesset.

However, voter support for the Yesh Atid-Telem faction that split off from Gantz when he agreed to join a Netanyahu-led government remained unchanged at 15 seats.

The Derech Eretz faction of Knesset members Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel that split from Telem and joined the Netanyahu government would be out of the Knesset with no seats, meaning the parties that formed the original Blue and White faction under Gantz would lose a total of eight seats and have only 25.

The poll showed that the Joint Arab List would gain a seat to 16 members. Israel’s orthodox religious Jewish parties Shas (9) and United Torah Judaism (7) would remain the same.

On the left end of the political spectrum, Meretz would double its representation to six seats, but if new elections were held today Israel’s Labor Party, which dominated the political scene for the formative first decades of the country, would be shut out of the Knesset.

Other small parties that would fail to get enough votes to gain seats are the center-left Gesher Party and the far-right Otzma Yehudit.

Respondents were also asked their opinion on the proposed plan by Netanyahu to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria, with 27 percent supporting annexation immediately, 21 percent saying sovereignty should be applied at a later date, and 23 percent opposed to the idea.