Polls show path to victory for Netanyahu opponents

Current numbers show a Right and center-Left coalition is possible without the Likud, haredi, or Arab parties.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Two of four polls taken overnight after Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai tossed his hat into the national ring Wednesday with his new party, The Israelis, show that opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could eke out a coalition without the Likud, haredi or Arab parties.

The other two surveys say that they would fall just short, with 60 seats.

The current numbers show that in no scenario could the Likud power its way to a pure Right-wing-religious victory, even though it would remain the biggest party by far, with between 26 to 29 seats, depending on the poll.

Its most natural partners, right-wing, national-religious Yemina (12 to 14 mandates), and the two haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, which split evenly between 15 to 16 mandates, would only total at best 57 seats according to the various surveys.

The Likud’s failure comes even when matched head to head — Netanyahu still beat the competition as the leader more people want to have as prime minister. Channel 12’s poll had the closest margin of victory, with Netanyahu backed by 34% of the respondents to Likud rebel Gidon Saar’s 32%, and 28% saying “neither.” Channel 11 had a wider gap of 41% to 33%, while Channel 13 showed a whopping 20-point difference: 38% for Netanyahu and 18% for Saar.

Among those parties which have vowed not to join a Netanyahu-led government, Saar’s New Hope party was in the clear lead, receiving 17-to-18 mandates. It was followed by center-Left Yesh Atid-Telem (11 to 13) and the Joint Arab List (10 to 12) which rounded out the parties that would receive Knesset seats in the double digits.

Huldai’s center-Left party jumped immediately to between eight and nine seats, taking away previously projected power mostly from Yesh Atid-Telem, but also from New Hope and Yemina. This suggests that there is a ‘soft-Right’ population in the country that could be worth valuable mandates to a moderate, Zionist party.

The other parties that make it into the Knesset basically preserve their numbers as shown in other recent polls. Israel Beiteinu wanders between five to eight seats, and extreme Left Meretz hovers at the four or five seat mark.

Blue and White, which won 33 seats in the last elections and plummeted steadily ever since leader Benny Gantz joined Netanyahu in the now-failed coalition that only lasted nine months, is holding at four seats, which is at the borderline of being pushed out of the Knesset altogether.

None of the one- or two-person parties currently in the Knesset as part of larger lists – the venerable Labor party, national-religious Habayit Hayehudi, and Gesher – are projected to survive elections on their own in March.

The Channel 11 poll also brought up the possibility of a government led by the center-Left for the first time in over a decade.

If The Israelis party combined with Yesh Atid-Telem instead of running alone, the survey found that the combination would receive 21 seats, making it the largest anti-Netanyahu party instead of New Hope.

A coalition could be formed between these parties, with Gidon Saar as junior partner, and the addition of Yemina, Yisrael Beiteinu and Blue and White, for a total of 65 seats.

In such a scenario, Meretz would not make it over the electoral threshold.