Poll: Right-wing, religious bloc opens up 18-seat lead over Left

Labor, Arab Joint List plummet as coalition factions expand majority to 69 seats. Netanyahu set to become longest-serving PM in history.

David Rosenberg , | updated: 11:16

Coalition members including PM Netanyahu, Aryeh Deri, Naftali Bennett, Eliezer Moses gathe
Coalition members including PM Netanyahu, Aryeh Deri, Naftali Bennett, Eliezer Moses gathe
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud government would be easily reelected if new elections were held today, a new poll shows, giving Netanyahu his fifth term as premier.

Netanyahu, who was first elected in Israel’s first direct elections in May 1996, was again elected in 2009, 2013, and 2015, giving him three consecutive terms as Prime Minister – four in total. Netanyahu currently holds the record for the longest consecutive term in office, with 8 years and 307 days.

If he remains in office through the end of the current Knesset’s term – set to end in November 2019 – he will break the record as the longest-serving PM in Israel’s history, a title currently held by David Ben-Gurion, with 13 years and 127 days.

But even if new elections were called prior to November of next year, Netanyahu would likely easily win a fifth term, a poll released by the Geocartography polling agency Friday shows.

The poll, published by the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom, shows the six coalition factions making a net gain of 3 seats over their present 66 mandates, and a net gain of 2 over the 67 they won in the 2015 election. A minimum of 61 seats are required to form a coalition government.

According to the poll, the Likud would retain the 30 seats it won in 2015 – a decline of 1 mandate from the previous Geocartography poll, which in January showed the party winning 31 seats.

The Jewish Home party, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, would become the second largest coalition faction with 12 seats, compared to the 8 it currently holds. Last month’s poll showed the party also with 12 seats.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, which campaigned in 2015 as a “center” or “center-right” faction, would fall from 10 seats to 7 according to the latest poll, a decline of 1 mandate since last month’s poll.

Among the haredi parties, United Torah Judaism would gain one seat, rising to seven mandates – identical to last month’s poll – while Shas would fall from seven to five seats – one seat better than the party’s performance in January’s poll.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party would win eight seats if elections were held today, twice what the previous Geocartography showed. Yisrael Beytenu won six seats in 2015, but lost one seat when MK Orly Levy-Abekasis split, becoming an independent MK when the party joined the coalition in 2016.

The four opposition parties would lose a net total of two seats according to the poll, winning a combined 51 mandates.

The Zionist Union, a joint list of the Labor and Hatnua parties, would fall from 24 mandates to just 13, similar to last month’s poll results. That would result in the lowest number of Labor MKs ever elected to the Knesset, with a delegation of just 11 members. Two of the 13 Zionist Union MKs would come from the Hatnua faction.

Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would rise to a record high of 24, compared to its present 11 seats. The party previously won 19 mandates in 2013. Today’s poll marks a decline, however, compared to last month’s poll, when Yesh Atid reached 26 seats.

The far-left Meretz faction would gain one seat if new elections were held today, rising to six mandates, while the predominantly Arab Joint List party would plummet to just eight mandates. The Joint List party won 13 seats in 2015, but has declined in strength according to recent polls. Last month’s Geocartography poll put the party at 9 seats. An average of all polls conducted during January gave the Joint List 11 seats.