(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A surprising poll indicating that if elections were held now Yesh Atid would beat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud caused a political uproar Wednesday.
The Channel 2 poll taken by Midgam that was broadcast Wednesday found that for the first time, Yesh Atid has passes Likud, 24 seats to 22. Bayit Yehudi would win 14 seats, the Zionist Union 13, Joint List 13, Yisrael Beytenu 10, United Torah Judaism seven, Shas six, Kulanu six, and Meretz five.
Shas leader Arye Deri advised Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid "to not tailor his suit yet." Speaking to Radio Kol Chai, he said that even if Yesh Atid won more seats than Likud, Shas would advise President Reuven Rivlin to appoint Netanyahu to form the next government.
"I don't recommend taking too seriously polls that merely indicate the current mood," Deri said.
"Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton led in the American election by 15 percent and now Trump is leadering her. Our elections will be held on time in more than three years. Until then, with God's help, this government will last."
Deri pointed out that even in the Channel 2 poll, Yesh Atid would not be able to form a government without the backing of Shas and United Torah Judaism that Lapid will not receive.
He said he was on good terms with Netanyahu and blamed the current impasse over Israel Railways work on Shabbat on an internal Likud fight between the prime minister and Transportation Minister Israel Katz that he believes is over.
Zionist Union MKs expressed frustration with the results of the poll. MK Shelly Yacimovich blamed the results on current party chairman Isaac Herzog, saying that had he not tried so hard to join Netanyahu's government, perhaps the results would be different.
But Yacimovich expressed satisfaction with proof that Netanyahu is not unbeatable and noted that after former prime minister Ehud Barak split her party, the situation in the polls was worse.
"We should not surrender, because despair is not an option," Zionist Union MK Michal Biran said. "The poll shows the nation wants to replace Netanyahu."
Biran, who is running for Labor Secretary-General expressed confidence that with the right work, her party could win the support of the voters away from Yesh Atid While the official Likud stance has been to downplay the results of the poll, Likud MK Oren Hazan instead criticized Netanyahu.
He joked in a radio interview that if he was head of Likud, perhaps the party would be doing better in the poll.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to look what is happening with him and ask himself how he brought us to this point," Hazan said.