If elections were held today, Israel would be no closer to a new government than it was last week, before the Knesset decided to disband itself – and in fact it would be more difficult for either Binyamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz to form a government, a poll in Yisrael Hayom shows.
The Likud would be the largest party in the Knesset, with 36 seats, the poll shows, beating out Blue and White by two seats. United Torah Judaism and Shas would fall a seat each to 7, while the New Right led by Naftali Bennett would this time pass the electoral threshold, with 5 seats. The United Right List, Meretz and Labor would each get 4 seats. Arab list Ta’al-Hadash would get 6 seats, while Ra’am-Balad would get 5. Zehut does not pass the electoral threshold.
The problem in forming any new government would be the 8 seats that Yisrael Beytenu would get. After the fiasco of the previous failed round of coalition negotiations, it’s unlikely Netanyahu would reach out to Liberman as a primary coalition partner, and based on comments in recent days by party leaders, it seems even less likely that Shas and UTJ would agree to join such a government – giving Netanyahu a grand total of 59 seats for a coalition without Yisrael Beytenu, one less than he had in the previous election.
Without the Arab parties, Gantz could count on 42 seats, including his party, Labor, and Meretz. Liberman’s 8 – if he were to agree to join a Gantz-led government, which he has so far refused to do – would raise that number to 50. Without the chareidi parties (or the Likud) Gantz would be unable to form a government – and the “double blow” of Liberman and Yair Lapid would be enough to keep Shas and UTJ out of such a coalition.
Blue and White announced Sunday that the coalition agreement between Lapid and Gantz would remain in effect for the new election. “Despite speculation and false rumors, Blue and White will participate in the election in the same manner as we did, which brought us 35 seats. That includes keeping the rotation between Gantz and Lapid, exactly as they agreed and has been presented to the public,” the party said in a statement.
Under the deal, Gantz will act as prime minister for the first two and a half years of a government that Blue and White forms, with Lapid serving as a senior minister. At the midway point, Lapid will take over the prime ministership, acting in that role for two and a half years until the end of the government’s five-year term.