As the elections frenzy continues ahead of a March 17 voting date, a new poll published Friday morning confirms the newly combined Labor and Hatnua party would become the largest party - but that the public prefers a right-wing government, and not a leftist one.
The poll conducted by Panels Politics for Maariv gives Labor 24 mandates, beating out Likud which comes in at 20 seats. Those results come on the heels of other polls, which likewise gave Labor a slight edge.
Coming in at third in the poll is Jewish Home at 17 seats, and at fourth would be Moshe Kahlon's new Kulanu party at ten seats; the three Arab parties would get ten seats all together, but while they have talked of a possible union that remains to be seen.
Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu would get nine mandates each, and the hareidi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas would get eight and six seats respectively. Polls have shown Shas would get more seats under former chairman Eli Yishai, and indeed there is talk of him breaking off likely next week, and possibly running with Uri Ariel of National Union who would split from Jewish Home.
The far-left Meretz party would receive six mandates according to the poll. Not appearing in the poll is Otzma Yehudit, the renamed Otzma Leyisrael party which just missed out in the last elections - polls have yet to start including the nationalist party.
However, while Labor may have the most seats according to the poll, the public apparently doesn't want to see the leftist party take control of the government.
A full 28% of the public prefers a right-wing and hareidi coalition government according to the poll, as opposed to just 19% who want a "center" and leftist coalition without the hareidim.
Another question that came up in the poll is the post of defense minister, which Moshe Ya'alon of Likud currently holds. There has been talk of Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett getting the post in a possible coalition deal, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied when asked by Ya'alon - but couldn't promise to secure the post for him.
In the poll, 60% said they want to see Ya'alon continue as defense minister, whereas a paltry 21% prefer Bennett for the role.
While the public may give Ya'alon backing for the role, it remains to be seen whether Likud will - reports indicate Ya'alon has fallen out with the right-wing in the party over his management of Operation Protective Edge, and they may seek to "settle scores" with him in primaries.