When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced early elections three months ago, political analysts were saying that Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett was the only coalition party looking forward to it.
At the time, the party was strong in the polls, with prospects of raising its representation from its current 12 seats in the Knesset to 18 or 19. However, in one of the many unexpected turns in this campaign, on election eve Jewish Home was looking at a sheer drop to below 10, according to its own internal poll, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The party is said to be losing thousands of voters to Likud, apparently in response to Netanyahu’s dire warnings of a center-left victory and automatic capitulation to Palestinian demands if they don’t come out in big numbers for Likud.
Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked said that her talks with voters in recent days indicated that many party supporters changed their mind and will vote Likud to ensure Netanyahu’s continuance in power. They were not buying the Jewish Home line that since the president will designate the head of the largest bloc, not necessarily the largest party, to form a government, a big Jewish Home turnout will not harm the chances of Netanyahu leading another right-wing coalition, with Jewish Home as a partner.
Shaked argued on Monday that “24 [for Likud] and 12 [Jewish Home] are 36 seats loyal to the land of Israel, but 27 seats for Likud and nine for Jewish Home means that there won’t be a change in the Justice Ministry, that Naftali Bennett will be the head of a faction in the opposition, that Israel will be left at the mercy of [former Shin Bet director and current Likud candidate] Avi Dichter.”
According to Shaked, “last time this happened, Likud … evacuated Gush Katif [in Gaza].”