In an interview Tuesday, government minister and Likud veteran Tzachi Hanegbi said that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not seeking elections, he would have no problem going to elections if that was what was required. “I think that the Prime Minister recognizes that there is a trend among the public, and especially among right-wing voters, of anger and rage at what Netanyahu has been forced to go through recently,” essentially being tried in the media in various corruption scandals, he told Reshet Bet.
“It could very well be that these elections will give the Likud its greatest victory since the first term of Menachem Begin. We are prepared for this if other parties prevent the continuation of the government. And I believe we will siphon Knesset seats from them.”
In new polls released Monday, Netanyahu and the Likud continued to show strength among the public. A poll commissioned by Hadashot News showed the Likud getting 30 seats if elections were held today, with Yesh Atid getting 21 seats, Zionist Camp 13, and Jewish Home 11. United Torah Judaism would get 7, as would Meretz. Kulanu would get 6, Yisrael Beytenu 4, and Shas 4. The United Arab List would get 12.
When asked who is the most qualified among party leaders to be Prime Minister, 36 percent of Israelis chose Netanyahu, with the next runner up, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, getting just 12 percent of the votes. Zionist Camp’s Avi Gabay is seen by 8 percent as the best man for the job, and 6 percent chose Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett for the position.
In a poll released by Channel Ten, the Likud gets 29 seats, and Yesh Atid 24. Zionist Camp falls to 11, while Jewish Home would get 11. UTJ would get 6, and Shas 5. In either scenario, the Likud would be the only party that could form a coalition.
The coalition’s fate could be determined Tuesday afternoon, as the Draft Law comes up for its first reading – and is certain to be voted against by Yisrael Beytenu MKs, including Immigration Affairs Minister Sopha Landver. According to the coalition agreement between the Likud and its partners, Netanyahu would have the right to fire Landver if she does so, and if that happens, party leader Avigdor Liberman said that his party would quit the coalition.
While several MKs, both inside and outside the Likud, have called on Netanyahu to give Landver a pass, Hanegbi said he did not think the Prime Minister had a choice in the matter. “It is unacceptable for a minister to vote against a law approved by the Ministerial Law Committee and supported by the government. If he allows this, then every minister with an agenda will try to push it through, and the result will be chaos.”
And although the resignation of Yisrael Beytenu would leave Netanyahu with a coalition of 61 – enough to keep the government going – Hanegbi said that he did not believe the Prime Minister would be comfortable in that situation. “I was chairman of the coalition at a time when we had just 61 votes, and it was a day-to-day existence. It was impossible to operate in this manner, and it is not a way to run a country,” he added.