TEL AVIV – The Likud party is predicted to win the most seats in Israel’s upcoming elections, a poll published Sunday showed, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling party narrowly beating the newcomer Blue and White party by a margin of 31-30.
The survey of 583 respondents published by the Kan public broadcaster found that Likud would gain the upper hand over its main rival for the first time since former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz formed Blue and White last month by merging his newly formed party with MK Yair Lapid’s existing Yesh Atid party and former defense minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon’s Telem party.
Netanyahu would likely lead a coalition of 63 out of 120 Knesset seats together with ultra-Orthodox parties whereas Blue and White would have 43 seats with left-wing and centrist parties, and 57 if it joins forces with the Arab parties.
According to the poll, the third largest party would be Labor, followed by an Arab party, Hadash-Ta’al, with nine seats and eight seats respectively.
The newly formed New Right party, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would win six seats as would the left-wing Meretz party, the national-religious Union of Right Wing Parties, and ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas.
The right-wing Yisrael Beytenu, led by former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, and Zehut, a new party calling for the legalization of cannabis, would gain four seats each, as would a second Arab party, Balad-Ra’am.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party would not cross the Knesset threshold of 3.25%, the poll found.
The Kan poll also published opinions over a controversy surrounding a report that claimed Iran had hacked Gantz’s cellphone. Gantz’s party accused Likud of leaking news about the hack to the press, a claim that Netanyahu’s party denies. Forty-four percent of respondents said that they believed the leak came from Netanyahu’s office, while 38% said they believed Gantz might have leaked it.
A Likud election campaign video released Saturday claimed that “the Iranian regime openly supports” Gantz and Lapid.
The Likud ad campaign stated: “The Shin Bet confirmed that the PM did not know anything about the Gantz matter and senior journalists have said so as well. This is an attempt by Lapid and Gantz to distort the fact that the Iranian regime openly supports them.”
Lapid charged Netanyahu with “spinning” the phone hack incident as a ploy to divert the public’s attention from the corruption allegations against him and from criticism over his actions regarding Gaza. Netanyahu “lies when he breathes,” said Lapid.