Source: Early Elections Likely to Be Called After Local Contests

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Knesset building in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Early elections are in the works, a senior Likud source told Channel 20 – and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will declare them after the local elections, to be held on October 30th. “It’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’” Netanyahu will call for elections, the source told Channel 20. “No one wants to talk about this before the local elections are completed.”

Elections are currently set for the end of 2019, but recent reports have said that Netanyahu, seeking to capitalize on his current popularity – and, possibly, to enable himself to campaign before any indictments are handed down against him in the various scandals he has been implicated in – is likely to call elections for early 2019.

The upcoming elections for local leaders, to be held in all cities and local authorities in Israel, are a major factor in the timing of the decision, the source said. “Local authorities that will be electing mayors at the end of the month are part of the political game, and a major factor in Knesset elections. Mayors, deputy mayors and city officials are all part of the Likud, and they bring out their people to vote and to work on behalf of the party. Before the elections, they are involved in attaining their own offices, but afterwards they will be able to give their all to the national campaign.”

A poll released Thursday night shows a significant increase in electoral strength for the right, as both the Likud and Jewish Home increased their popularity among the electorate, while both Yesh Atid and Zionist Camp were quickly losing favor with the voters. In the Channel Ten poll, the Likud would get 31 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today. Jewish Home, meanwhile, would get 13 seats – five more than it currently has, and higher than it has been polling in recent months.

Yesh Atid, which had until very recently been polling in the mid-20s for number of Knesset seats, would get no more than 15 if elections were held now. Zionist Camp, meanwhile, would only get 11 seats – making it only the fifth biggest party in the Knesset.

As poor as the performance of Zionist Camp currently is, things could go far worse for the party because of the potential of a new competitor for center-left voters – former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. While Gantz has not announced any intention to run, recent reports have him talking to political figures and advisers. If he were to run, the poll shows, Gantz would get 13 seats, making him a contender for inclusion in the next government.

If Gantz were to run, he would collect votes from nearly all parties. The Likud would lose two seats and Jewish Home would lose three. Yesh Atid would get 13 seats instead of 15, and Zionist Camp would be relegated to a minor party, with just eight seats.

Whether or not Gantz runs, United Torah Judaism would get eight seats, and Shas could expect four. Kulanu could expect six, Meretz six, Yisrael Beytenu five, and a party led by former Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abukasis five.