A new poll in Maariv shows that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is still a strong candidate, and that the indictments he faces have not affected his popularity among right-wing voters. He is also a stronger candidate that rival Gideon Saar – but if Saar were the Likud’s candidate, the right-wing/chareidi bloc would grow.
With Netanyahu at the helm, the Likud would get 33 seats, with Shas getting 8, United Torah Judaism 7, and the New Right 6, for a total of 54 seats, similar to the number the bloc currently has. Blue and White would get 35 seats, and both Labor and Democratic Camp would get 5 seats, giving Benny Gantz 45 seats he could count on. The United Arab List would get 13 seats, and Yisrael Beytenu would get 8.
If Saar were to head the Likud, the party would get just 31 seats, with other parties on the right achieving the same results. But in a Saar scenario, Yisrael Beytenu would fall to 7 seats, and the Jewish Home Party – which under a Netanyahu scenario does not pass the electoral threshold – would get 4 seats. If Saar were to lead the Likud and Jewish Home does get into the Knesset, the right-wing/chareidi bloc would get 57 seats.
On Thursday Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said that new elections were now inevitable, as he had given up on the idea of a unity government. “I did everything I could to prevent third elections, but with other options running out we are going to elections,” he told Yediot Acharonot.“I tried to exercise pressure on [Netanyahu and Gantz] to persuade them to agree to a unity government. When Netanyahu tried to form a government I kept quiet. Over the past week I hinted that we would join a Likud-led right-wing government in order to pressure Blue and White. But both of them adopted a strategy not to go to a unity government. These elections are the responsibility of both parties,” he said. That is because both parties have polls that indicate that, given a third opportunity, they will be able to break the electoral deadlock and come up with a government of 61 mandates, he added.