Polls Shows Joint Arab List Spells the End of Shas

Arab parties' joint list would give more votes to Likud, Jewish Home in latest poll; without Arab unity, Shas could scrape through.

Tova Dvorin,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Likud and Labor are still neck-and-neck for the top spot, according to a Panels Politics poll for Maariv Weekend Edition - but the chances of building a coalition are greatly impacted by whether or not the Arab parties run on a joint list

In the event Hadash, Balad, and the United Arab List (UAL) run together, according to the survey, Labor and Likud would each gain 24 seats in the 20th Knesset - prompting a mad dash to form a coalition between the two parties. 

Jewish Home once again is in third place with 18 seats, according to this scenario; the joint Arab list takes fourth with 13 seats. Yesh Atid follows at fifth with 11 seats; the new Kulanu party, with seven seats; United Torah Judaism (UTJ) would also gain seven seats. Rounding out the poll are Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu at six seats each.

At the very bottom of the list, Eli Yishai's new Ha'am Itanu party enters with four mandates, while Shas and Kadima are not projected to pass the Knesset seat threshold. Shas not entering is significant, as its head Aryeh Deri has expressed support for a Labor coalition. Former MK Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit (formerly Otzma LeYisrael) party apparently was again not included in the survey, as it is not expected to pass the threshold either. 

The lack of a united Arab running list could prove to be worse, not better, for the right-wing bloc, the poll shows. 

In a scenario where Balad, Hadash, and UAL ran separately, Labor would still gain the upper hand with 24 seats, with Likud a close second at 23 mandates. 

Jewish Home once again placed third - but with one fewer seat, at 17 instead of 18 seats - and Yesh Atid would get eleven.

UTJ and Kulanu once again would win seven seats, and Meretz would gain a seat as well - with seven instead of six seats.

But the coalition makeup changes drastically at the bottom of the list, with Shas and Ha'am Itanu splitting the vote at four seats each - meaning that Shas would suddenly pass the Knesset threshold. Yisrael Beytenu's power would be reduced to five seats.

As for the Arab parties, UAL would get six, Hadash five, and Balad would not enter. Again, Otzma Yehudit apparently was not included in the poll.

Changes made to the Knesset threshold since the last elections have made the 20th Knesset pre-election frenzy a matter of joint lists and alliances, analysts have noted, as several smaller parties fear that they will disappear due to the increased number of votes required to break into the Knesset. 

Hatnua's Tzipi Livni merged with Yitzhak Herzog's Labor party earlier this month due to such concerns, and rumors have been rampant over several other unions, including a "Centrist list" of Kulanu, Yesh Atid, and Yisrael Beytenu, and a union between Ha'am Itanu and Otzma Yehudit.