With nine days to go before the party lists for the Knesset election close, there is movement among the smaller parties. A Channel 12 poll published yesterday evening shows the Labor Party under its newly elected leader Merav Michaeli passing the minimum vote threshold for winning Knesset seats for the first time in a long time, while Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai's new party The Israelis has dropped below the threshold. The unsurprising conclusion is that these two parties are largely competing for the same electorate, and they are therefore the parties most likely to join forces before the lists close.
The Channel 12 survey examined the possibility of such a merger, and found that it would yield seven Knesset seats, mainly at the expense of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party. The poll shows Likud weakening slightly in comparison with recent poll results, to 29 projected seats. Yesh Atid continues to lead Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope party, with sixteen projected seats versus fifteen, while Yamina, led by Naftali Bennett, has strengthened a little, perhaps thanks to the cooption of Avir Kara of the Shalmonim self-employed protest movement, and receives fourteen projected seats. Shas and United Torah Judaism receive eight seats each; Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu receives its usual seven; Meretz has five; and, as mentioned, Labor has four. All the other parties are for the moment not projected to win any Knesset representation.
According to the results of this poll, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud plus the other parties that have declared that they are backing him has 45 seats, and 59 with Yamina, still not enough to form a coalition. The anti-Netanyahu parties have 61 seats without Yamina but with the Joint Arab List, a highly unlikely basis for a coalition. If the Joint Arab List remains outside and Yamina joins, then this grouping has 65 seats, but this too represents an improbable scenario.
The survey also examined the possibility of a merger of Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party with Habayit Hayehudi, led by Hagit Moshe, and Otzma Yehudit, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir. Such a consolidated list would win five seats, the poll finds, enlarging Netanyahu's block.
A merger between Lapid and Huldai would yield eighteen seats, the poll finds, not dramatically strengthening the anti-Netanyahu block. Shortly after the poll was released, it was reported that Lapid had informed his associates that Yesh Atid would compete alone, but of course nothing is final until the deadline of February 4.
The average result of the five most recent polls is as follows:
Likud - 31
Yesh Atid - 16
New Hope - 15
Yamina - 12
Joint Arab List - 10
United Torah Judaism - 8
Shas - 7
Yisrael Beitenu - 7
Meretz - 5
Blue & White - 4
The Israelis - 4
The numbers do not add up to 120, the total number of seats in the Knesset, because of the averaging process.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 27, 2021
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