Poll predicts potential shift in Israeli politics

New poll indicates if ex-IDF head Ashkenazi enters politics, a 'centrist' party might take control of the government for the first time.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Flash 90

A new Channel 10 poll Thursday reveals that if former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi enters politics, after having a case on criminal charges closed against him by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday, it may signal a major shift in Israeli politics.

Ashkenazi had been suspected of obstruction of justice in the 2010 "Harpaz affair," which was an apparent attempt to smear then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and influence the appointment of Ashkenazi's successor. Weinstein ordered to drop the criminal probe over a lack of evidence, but criticized those involved and particularly Ashkenazi, accusing him of collecting material against Barak. 

The new poll, conducted by the news site and Prof. Camil Fuchs, explores several possible outcomes depending on Ashkenazi's choices on which party he might join, if he were to enter politics as many expect.

The only possibility that indicates Ashkenazi seriously influencing the political map would be one in which he joined Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid and Kulanu chair Moshe Kahlon, forming a new "centrist" party together with them.

According to the poll, a new party of this type would garner 29 mandates, while Likud would drop from its current 30 seats down to 24.

The leftist Zionist Union would receive only 13 seats, in a serious setback from its current 24, while the Arab Joint List would stay at 13, Jewish Home would come in at 12, and Yisrael Beytenu would rise to 10 from its current six. The site did not list the results showing how the haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) or the radical leftist Meretz would fare.

Conversely, if Ashkenazi were to join the Zionist Union and become its chairperson, it would receive only 18 seats, while Likud would remain far ahead with 27. Yesh Atid would get 15, the Joint List and Jewish Home would get 13 apiece, Yisrael Beytenu would receive nine, Kulanu, Shas and UTJ would get seven, and Meretz four.

If Ashkenazi were to join Yesh Atid, taking the number two spot after Lapid, the party would get 19 mandates, well behind Likud's 26. Zionist Camp would drop to 14, Jewish Home and the Joint List would be at 13 each, Yisrael Beytenu would have nine, Kulanu, UTJ and Shas seven each, and Meretz five.

Without Ashkenazi entering the fray, the poll predicts Likud would stay at the top with 27 seats, Yesh Atid would get 16, Zionist Camp 15, Joint List 14, Jewish Home 13, Yisrael Beytenu 10, Kulanu, Shas and UTJ at seven each, and Meretz four.

The poll also asked respondents who they think is most fitting for the role of prime minister, with a full 35% saying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu currently remains the best match. He far outpaced Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman or Jewish Home chair Naftali Bennett, who received just 11% each, while Ashkenazi and Zionist Camp head Yitzhak Herzog got the support of only 9%.

No less than 19% said that none of the politicians on the list was appropriate for the role of leading the state of Israel.