First Polls Out Show Big Gains for Small Parties

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ehud Barak arrives for a press conference of the new Democratic Camp alliance, in Tel Aviv, Thursday. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The stunning realignment of Israel’s political parties registered in the polls on Thursday as the just-formed Democratic Camp was predicted to win as many as twelve Knesset seats in the September elections.

The left-wing triumverate of Meretz, Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic party, and former Labor MK Stav Shaffir polled between 8 and 12 seats, according to three Israeli news channels. Until now, Meretz had only 5 in the outgoing Knesset, Barak had no party at all until a few weeks ago, and Shaffir was an also-ran in the Labor party elections won by Amir Peretz.

At the same time, the right-wing parties made stronger showings, even while negotiations for a unity slate were still under way on Thursday night.

United Right and New Right running separately would pick up a combined total of from 13 to 18 (if Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut passes the threshold).

A poll conducted by Channel 12 news showed Likud party dropping to 29 seats, Blue and White down to 27, Joint (Arab) List 11. Democratic Camp and Yisrael Beytenu had 10 each, the New Right had 9, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) had 8, Shas had 7, Labor 5 and the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) won 4. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be able to line up only 57 without Avigdor Liberman, not enough to form a coalition.

Channel 13 gave Likud 28, Blue and White just 23, and Democratic Camp 12. The Joint List got 11, New Right 10, Yisrael Beytenu 10, Labor 7, UTJ 6, Shas 5, URWP 4 and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut 4. Netanyahu would only take 52 seats.

The Kan public broadcaster saw 30 seats each for Likud and Blue and White. Joint List had 10, Yisrael Beytenu 9, New Right 9, Democratic Camp 8, UTJ with 8, Shas with 7, Labor with 5 and URWP with 4. Netanyahu and friends would have 57 seats.

For all the changes, the ultimate question of who rules Israel would still not be settled, unless at least not in favor of Netanyahu.