Could Eli Yishai, Baruch Marzel make it into the next Knesset?

New poll shows right-wing Yahad party almost clearing electoral threshold. Likud still leads, with clear mandate to form next government.

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David Rosenberg,

Baruch Marzel, Dudi Shwamenfeld, Yoni Chetboun, Eli Yishai
Baruch Marzel, Dudi Shwamenfeld, Yoni Chetboun, Eli Yishai
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Could former Interior Minister Eli Yishai be making a comeback in the next Knesset election? According to the latest Knesset poll, the former Shas chief is close to passing the minimum electoral threshold.

After bolting from Shas in 2014 following his replacement as Shas chief by Aryeh Deri, Yishai formed the Yahad party, which ran on a joint list with the right-wing Otzma Yehudit faction. Along with Yishai and Otzma Yehudit activist Baruch Marzel, then-Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun left hsi party and also ran on the Yahad list.

In the 2015 election, Yahad narrowly missed the 3.25% minimum threshold necessary to enter the Knesset, despite having received the votes equivalent to three and a half seats.

Because of the relatively high turnout in 2015 – 72.3% compared to 67.7% in 2013 – the 3.25% minimum threshold required a party win more than 138,000 votes to enter the Knesset. The Yahad-Otzma Yehudit list came up just short, winning 125,158 votes, or about 2.97% - 13,000 votes short of the 3.25% threshold.

While the party was largely written off following its 2015 defeat, a new poll shows Yahad close to passing the threshold.

The poll, conducted by Rafi Smith on behalf of The Jerusalem Post, shows both Yahad and former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s new party winning the equivalent of more than three seats – but just under the 3.25% threshold.

Another recent poll shows the new Zehut party, headed by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, winning the equivalent of 2.4 seats, below the 3.25% threshold.

According to the Smith poll, which was published on Thursday, the Likud remains in the lead with 27 seats, down from the 30 it won in 2015.

The Zionist Union came in second with 20 mandates, down from 24, with Yesh Atid close behind at 19, up from the 11 it won in 2015.

The predominantly Arab Joint List party fell by one mandate to 12, while the Jewish Home rose by 2 to 10 seats.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party lost 2 seats in the poll, falling from 10 to 8 mandates.

The haredi United Torah Judaism party gained one seat, rising to seven, while Shas fell by two, sinking to five seats.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu gained one seat to a total of seven mandates, while the far-left Meretz remained stable with five.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s present coalition partners lost a total of three seats according to the poll, falling from 67 to 64, while the opposition parties had a net gain of three, rising to 56 from 53.