For the second time in polls conducted during the current election campaign in Israel, Meretz has dropped below the minimum vote threshold for wining any Knesset seats. The poll in question was published by Channel 12 News yesterday. In another poll, published by Channel 13, the left-wing party is projected to win four Knesset seats, the minimum allowable. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, on the other hand, is shown strengthening to nineteen seats in both polls, matching its best showing so far in the current round a month ago.
For the rest, the two polls project different, even contradictory, results. According to Channel 12, Likud is on 28 seats, New Hope is on 14, Yamina 12, the Joint Arab List 9, Shas 8, Yisrael Beitenu and Labor both on 7, United Torah Judaism on 6, with Benny Gantz's Blue & White and the Religious Zionist party bringing up the rear with 5 projected seats each. In this poll, Ra'am like Meretz is out of the picture.
According to Channel 13, Likud has weakened slightly, to 27 seats, and New Hope and Yamina are tied on just 11 seats each, meaning that New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar has lost the consistent advantage he has held up to now over Yamina's Naftali Bennett. The Channel 13 poll gives the Joint Arab List 8 seats, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beitenu 7 seats each, Labor 6, the Religious Zionist party 5, and Blue & White, Meretz and Ra'am 4 each.
As we have pointed out several times, it is the identities of parties that drop below the minimum vote threshold that are likely to determine the outcome of the election. In the scenario given by the Channel 12 poll, the pro-Netanyahu block will have 59 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, assuming that Bennett joins it, whereas according to Channel 13's poll, the pro-Netanyahu block is only 57 strong, but if Mansour Abbas's Ra'am joins it or supports it in some way, Netanyahu will have the backing of 61 Knesset members and will be able to form a coalition.
That may sound like the stuff of fantasy, that the most right-wing government in Israel's history should arise by virtue of the support of the Islamic Movement that Ra'am represents, but Netanyahu has been courting Israeli Arabs in general and Abbas in particular, and it seems that in the past two years Israel has become the land of unlimited possibilities, at least as far as self-interested political moves are concerned.
The average numbers of Knesset seats projected for each party in the five most recent polls are as follows:
Likud - 28
Yesh Atid - 18
New Hope - 13
Yamina - 11
Joint Arab List - 9
Shas - 8
United Torah Judaism - 7
Yisrael Beitenu - 7
Labor - 6
Religious Zionist - 4
Blue & White - 4
Meretz - 4
Because of the averaging process, the total number of projected seats does not equal 120, the actual number of seats in the Knesset.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 3, 2021
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