Poll: Blue and White Headed by Gabi Ashkenazi Jumps Ahead of Likud

YERUSHALAYIM -
Former IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. (Flash90)

New polls released Friday show that if elections were held today, the results would be similar to those in the April elections – and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have the same problem forming a government as he did in the botched coalition negotiations that led to the scheduling of new elections. With that, a change of leadership in the Blue and White party could lead to a coalition resolution.

The poll, sponsored by 103FM Radio, shows the Likud getting 35 seats in new elections under the current party constellation. Likud is followed by Blue and White, which gets 33. United Torah Judaism would retain the 8 it got in the April election, with Shas falling 1 seat to 7. The Ta’al-Hadash list would get 7 seats, the United Right List 6, and Meretz and New Right would get 5 seats. Labor and the Balad-Ra’am Arab party were teetering on the edge of the electoral threshold, with 4 seats each.

The one party that shows significant change from its April results is Yisrael Beytenu, which would shoot up to 8 seats in new elections. Those seats will be even more crucial to the formation of a government, because without them, Netanyahu could count on only 60 MKs in his coalition – again. Blue and White would be unable to form a coalition, and in any event, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer on Thursday night reiterated in an interview with Channel 20 that the party would “never” join a left-wing coalition headed by Benny Gantz.

Things could change, however, if the makeup of parties – specifically Blue and White – changes. If instead of Gantz, the party was headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the poll shows that it would get 35 seats, with the Likud slipping to 33. That would give Ashkenazi first crack at forming a government. The right-wing bloc, without Yisrael Beytenu, would number only 54 seats, while the left-Arab bloc would number 57, also with Yisrael Beytenu.

Even then, however, Ashkenazi would have to rely on the chareidi parties to form a government, and given the invective Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman has been directing at those parties in recent weeks, a government formed by Ashkenazi under those circumstances as well seems a reach.