Leader of New Party Makes Surprise Showing in Latest Poll

YERUSHALAYIM -

The latest opinion sampling in Israel on Monday contained few surprises. Likud was slightly weaker than at last look, but still ahead of Yesh Atid and the rest, as in previous polls.

But one surprise there was — and her name is Orly Levi-Abekasis.

The Times of Israel hailed her as the emerging “kingmaker,” with 8 seats, enough to be a potential swing vote in the formation of a coalition in and after the next elections.

What’s surprising about it is that just a few weeks ago, Levi-Abekasis, an independent former Yisrael Beyteinu MK, had only her one seat and no party to call her own. But after announcing her intentions to run, and even before she has assembled a slate of candidates or named the party, she is already higher in the poll than five other parties — Meretz, Yisrael Beyteinu, Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

With analysts giving the center-left bloc an overall 52 seats, and the center-right 60, Levy-Abekesis could indeed decide what the next Israeli government will look like.

What does she stand for?

The daughter of former Foreign Minister Dovid Levi refuses to be classified as either left, center or right-wing.

“There’s this constant divide between right and left, which is a divide that serves the interests of members of the old-world order,” she said in a recent interview. She would rather focus on socioeconomic affairs including pensions, health, housing, child-rearing and strengthening small and medium businesses. It was Yisrael Beyteinu’s failure to do so, which she said was the reason she left the party.

The Channel 2 poll gave Likud 28 seats (down from 30), Yesh Atid 20, Zionist Camp 14, Joint Arab List 12, UTJ 7, Kulanu 6, Meretz 6, Yisrael Beyteinu 5, and Shas 4.