Down to the Wire: Right, Left Remain Solidly Split

YERUSHALAYIM -
(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

With 17 days until Israel’s third election in a year, the concerns that a fourth election will be necessary continued to grow Friday, as polls showed that the lockjam between right and left, and between the Likud and Blue and White, showed no signs of loosening. Typical of the polls was that in Maariv, which gave 56 seats to the right-wing bloc and 57 to the left – if the bloc includes the United Arab List, which at this point does not appear set to happen.

The poll shows Blue and White with a slight electoral lead, getting 34 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today, to the Likud’s 33. Shas would get 9 seats, and United Torah Judaism and Yamina 7 each in the Maariv poll. A Channel 13 poll showed Shas and UTJ getting 8 seats, with Yemina getting 9. On the left, most polls showed Labor-Meretz-Gesher getting 9 seats.

That leaves the United Arab List, with 14 seats, and Yisrael Beytenu, with 7, as the deciding factors. In order for Blue and White’s Benny Gantz to form a government, he would need both of those parties, or to convince one of the parties on the right to join him – an unlikely possibility, according to Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, who said that the right-wing bloc was solid and would remain solidly behind Binymin Netanyahu.

On the other hand, Blue and White officials have in recent days said that they will not only not include the Arab party in a government he heads, but not even rely on the UAL’s votes from outside the coalition to form a minority government.

With polls continuing to show a standoff between left and right, the Central Elections Committee is preparing for what many Israelis would be the unthinkable – a fourth election. A report in Yediot Acharonot said that the Committee did not wish to be caught off-guard as it was after the second election, and that a date had already been chosen for a fourth election, should no government result after the March 2 election.

The date of that new election, if it takes place, would be September 8 – 19 Elul, barely a week before Rosh Hashanah. According to a report last week by Amit Segal, “the ballots for the third election have been printed, but the Committee is quietly preparing for fourth elections.” After both the April and September 2019 elections failed to yield a government, the Committee scrambled to prepare for an unprecedented third election.