Amid talk of elections in the winter, two opinion polls published on Thursday night show Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu losing ground against opposition parties, though still not enough to erase the Likud majority.
According to pollster Kamil Fuchs for Channel 13, Likud would slip below 30 seats for the first time in many months. Currently, the party 33 seats in the Knesset, and polls taken earlier in the year, before the coronavirus second wave, had Likud winning as many as 40 seats.
On the other hand, the right-wing opposition party Yamina, led by Naftali Bennett, continued its steep upward trajectory, reaching 19 in the survey. The last election, in March, left Yamina with a mere 5 seats.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid-Telem party also continued to gather strength, tying Yamina at 19 seats. The Joint List got 15, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White just 8 (down from 15), Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu gets 8, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7 and Meretz also 7.
The right-wing religious bloc, including Yamina and excluding Yisrael Beytenu, would accordingly have 63 seats in the 120-member parliament. However, Bennett has been extremely critical of Netanyahu since the former could not satisfy his demands for ministerial posts after the last election and could not be counted on to join him after another round.
Likud did slightly better in the second poll, sponsored by the Kan broadcaster, with 30 seats and a hypothetical 62-member bloc.
Yesh-Atid-Telem had 17, 15 for Yamina, 12 for Blue and White, 9 for Shas, 8 for UTJ, 7 for Yisrael Beytenu and 6 for Meretz.
The discouraging poll results came on Thursday, when earlier in the day, the chareidi party leaders released a joint statement appealing to Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to reconcile their differences around the budget and not drag the country into new elections.
“The citizens of Israel are currently facing difficult times, with many health and economic problems, and the very thought of going to the polls at this time is complete madness,” the statement read.
“It is time to push everything else aside, and to bring about urgent approval of the state budget, so that we can then focus on the challenges of the economy and the health system, in the face of the coronavirus crisis plaguing Israeli citizens and the world.
“We will not cooperate with any initiative to advance the elections,” they declared.