The merger between the Labor Party headed by Amir Peretz and Orly Levy-Abekasis's Gesher party brings only one or two more seats to the joint list, according to opinion polls published last night on Channel 12 and Kan. According to the first poll, the addition is at the expense of Blue and White, which drops to 29 seats, while according to the second the loser is actually Ehud Barak, whose Israel Democratic Party falls below the minimum vote threshold for winning any Knesset seats. At any rate, it is a question of one or two seats shifting between the parties that make up what is known as the center-left block.
The polls were carried out before yesterday evening's press conference at which Ayelet Shaked announced that she would run as leader of the New Right party and called for unification of the parties of the right under her leadership ahead of the upcoming election on September 17. The two polls did however examine the possibility of such a move, and found that it could yield 12-13 seats, 2-3 more seats than the average achieved by the two parties concerned, New Right and Ichud Hayamin (United Right) under Rabbi Rafi Peretz, in polls last week. The more interesting impact is that in the event of such a merger, Likud falls to 28 seats and becomes only the second largest party, behind Blue and White, which, as mentioned, is projected to win 29 seats by these polls.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may perhaps want as large a right-wing block as possible in order to have sufficient Knesset members behind the recommendations to the president to invite him to form a government, and in the last election he intervened to form the United Right in order not to lose votes, but if there is one thing he does not want it is a consolidated list under Ayelet Shaked. The former minister of justice is perhaps the only figure in Israeli politics, from the right or the left, who manages in any way to threaten the prime minister, who has been in office for a decade. There were reports yesterday that messages were sent from the Netanyahu family to Rafi Peretz encouraging him to stand firm in his refusal to let Shaked lead a joint list.
In general, the election campaign for the 22 nd Knesset has made hardly any impact so far. The parties' headquarters presumably realize that the Israeli public is tired of dirty politics, and worn out by the heat and humidity outside and the long school holidays, and are reserving their strength for the first two weeks of September. Then the big guns will be rolled out. The campaign may seem like a marathon that has been going on since the end of 2018, but really it will be a 17-day sprint.
Projected election results
The following projected numbers of Knesset seats for each party are from five polls: Kan, 21 July; Channel 12 News, 21 July; Radio FM103, 19 July; Channel 12 News, 16 July; Ma'ariv and Radio FM103, 12 July.
Blue and White 29-30
Arab parties 10-11
Yisrael Beitenu 8-10
United Torah Judaism 7-8
United Right 4-5
New Right 5-8
Israel Democratic Party 0-4
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 22, 2019
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