Poll Puts Saar, Kahlon in Line to Succeed Netanyahu

Israeli prime minister
Gideon Saar, shown here at a press conference in Akko in April, announcing his return to the political life in the Likud party. (Meir Vaaknin/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM - While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tries to fight off corruption probes, the media, and the left opposition, speculation has risen over who might succeed him in office if he is forced to resign.

On Sunday the latest poll indicated several possibilities, but no one in a commanding position.

The Panels Research poll said 38 percent of Israelis believe former Minister of Interior Affairs Gideon Saar fit to be prime minister, followed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at 32 percent, former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at 30 percent, and current Education Minister Naftali Bennett with 26 percent, The Jerusalem Post reported.

According to the opinion sampling, Saar would strengthen the Likud’s prospects, winning one more Knesset seat as the party leader than Netanyahu, taking away five seats from Yesh Atid and two from Kulanu.

Israeli prime minister
Moshe Kahlon, finance minsiter and leader of the Kulanu party.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

With Likud led by Netanyahu, the party would win 25 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Zionist Union 16, Bayit Yehudi 12, Joint List 11, Kulanu nine, United Torah Judaism eight, Yisrael Beytenu seven, Meretz six and Shas five, according to the poll of 562 respondents with a margin of error of 4.3%.

When poll researchers asked respondents whether they accepted Netanyahu’s claim that his investigations will “amount to nothing because there isn’t anything,” as he insists, 64 percent of Likud voters said yes, whereas confidence among the general public was less than half that, only 31 percent saying they believed him.