Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettFlash 90

On Wednesday evening, MK Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Yamina party, will be holding a press conference at the Knesset at which he is expected to announce his candidacy for the premiership, now that new elections have officially been called.

Until just a few weeks ago, Bennett was riding high in the polls, with some surveys suggesting that he could win over 20 seats in a future election and propel Yamina into becoming the second-largest party in the Knesset. However, Gideon Sa’ar’s defection from the Likud party seems to have cast a severe blow at Yamina’s electoral chances, with one recent poll placing it in fourth place at 13 seats, behind Yesh Atid (16), New Hope (18), and Likud with 29 seats.

In addition, another poll conducted for the Kan News broadcaster revealed that only 23% of respondents would like to see Bennett as prime minister, as opposed to 39% who favor Netanyahu and 36% who would prefer Gideon Sa’ar.

Unlike Sa’ar, Bennett has not promised that he will refuse to sit in a coalition together with Netanyahu, possibly leaving himself more room to maneuver on the day after elections – although Benny Gantz also promised on multiple occasions that he would never sit with Netanyahu, and then backtracked.

Bennett has been highly critical of Netanyahu’s leadership over the past year, specifically in relation to his management of the coronavirus crisis but also for his failure to deliver on the application of sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, which was one of the Likud party’s key campaign promises.

In his speech this evening, he is likely to cite these failures, as well as Netanyahu’s reluctance to move forward with judicial reforms, widely seen as necessary with public confidence in the Supreme Court, for instance, at a historic low.