Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of a unity government with Blue and White, but polls continue to show that such a government is, at least under current conditions, the most likely one that will be established. A poll by Maariv/Radio 103 shows that the Likud, along with right-wing religious and chareidi parties, could attain 57 seats if elections were held today. Center-left parties, led by Blue and White and without the United Arab List, would get 53 seats.
The kingmaker continues to be Yisrael Beytenu, which is slightly down from recent polls with 9 seats. Party head Avigdor Liberman has said several times that the only government he was interested in was a unity government that would bring together Blue and White and the Likud – and keep chareidi and religious parties out. Liberman has already refused to join a Netanyahu-led government featuring those parties, but even if he were to join a left-wing government that included the Democratic Camp – largely consisting of Meretz MKs – that would still not be enough for Blue and White head Benny Gantz to establish a government, unless he included the United Arab List – considered even more of a remote likelihood than Liberman’s joining a government with chareidim.
According to the poll, the Likud remains the largest party, with 32 Knesset seats, with Blue and White attaining 30. The United Arab List remains the third largest party, with 11 seats, closely followed by the United Right, which gets 10. Shas would get 8 seats and United Torah Judaism 7, while the Democratic Camp would get 8 as well. The Labor Party would get just 5. Both Zehut and Otzma Yehudit would fail to get into the Knesset, the poll shows.
Netanyahu on Wednesday committed to establish a right-wing government after the September elections – and declared that he would not consider a coalition with non-right parties, like Blue and White. “My commitment is clear: To establish a strong right-wing government after the election and continue to lead Israel to unprecedented accomplishments, and to ensure the security of Israelis. There will not be a unity government,” he said.
Netanyahu made the comments in an op-ed piece in Yisrael Hayom. The op-ed was a response to commentary by the newspaper’s analyst, Moti Tuchfeld, that the Prime Minister would apparently have no choice but to establish a unity government with Blue and White after the election. With the statement, Netanyahu joins Benny Gantz of Blue and White in voiding the possibility that the two will work together to avoid a governmental deadlock, which the polls show is all but inevitable.
Netanyahu urged right-wing voters to choose the Likud. “We cannot repeat the errors of the last election, when the right threw away seven Knesset seats,” he wrote. “We cannot endanger our efforts by voting for parties that have a slim chance of passing the electoral threshold, thus the vote must be for the Likud.” According to this poll, the right-wing parties that aren’t crossing the threshold – Otzma Yehudit and Zehut – receive four seats between them.