PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Three months after Moshe Ya’alon quit the cabinet and Knesset after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the Defense portfolio to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Ya’alon’s support has fallen dramatically, according to a poll taken for The Jerusalem Post.
It found that if an election were held now with the current parties as they are, the Likud would win 27 Knesset seats, Yesh Atid 20, the Joint List 13, Bayit Yehudi and the Zionist Union 12 each, Yisrael Beytenu nine, United Torah Judaism and Shas seven each, Meretz six, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party seven.
But if Kahlon joined a new party led by Ya’alon, former education minister Gideon Sa’ar and himself, that party would win 16 seats, compared to 25 for the Likud, 16 for Yesh Atid, 11 each for Bayit Yehudi and the Zionist Union, eight for Yisrael Beytenu, seven each for United Torah Judaism and Shas, and six for Meretz.
The Smith Research poll of 500 people representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population was taken Wednesday and had a 4.5 percent margin of error.
While the 16 seats for the Ya’alon-Sa’ar- Kahlon party would be a lot more than the seven seats Kulanu would receive on its own, that showing is much less than the same prospective party received in the polls immediately after Ya’alon quit.
Without the Defense portfolio, Ya’alon has not had a stage in which he speaks to the public on a regular basis, and at the same time there have been no major security operations without him on the job.
A poll conducted by the same pollster, Rafi Smith, that was aired May 27 on Israel Radio, found that a Ya’alon-Sa’ar-Kahlon party would win 25 seats, surpassing the Netanyahu- led Likud with 21.
As the Post
reported exclusively, Ya’alon has formed a new nongovernmental organization called “the NGO for Different Leadership,” which he can use as a platform to form a new party in the future or to cooperate with existing parties.
Ya’alon and Sa’ar both remain members of the Likud, and either of them could end up being the next leader of the party after Netanyahu.
Sa’ar has reiterated many times that he intends to remain in the Likud. He was asked about the possibility of running together with Bayit Yehudi in the next election in a rare interview Thursday with Army Radio.
“If [Bennett] joins the Likud, he could run together with me on the same list, assuming I return to political activity,” Sa’ar responded. “I am in the Likud. Bennett was in the Likud, and I hope he comes back to the party, because I want it to be strong.”
On his official Facebook page, which is called GideonSaarLikud, Sa’ar criticized Bennett for saying that Israeli students’ achievements in math and science deteriorated in the decade before he took over as education minister. Sa’ar, who was education minister during that time, said the facts proved otherwise.
“I am friends with the education minister, but when he speaks about a deterioration of results during that decade, it is not true,” Sa’ar said in the Army Radio interview. “It is acceptable to say we need to improve, but the professionals in the ministry have been complaining about what he has been saying.”
“I recommend that minister Bennett focus on his office and the issue of education that he is in charge of,” Sa’ar wrote on Facebook. “Despite the impression people can receive, he is not prime minister or defense minister. He is education minister, and he should be aware of the issues under his ministerial responsibility. And beyond that, a little modesty could not hurt. That is also an important value to teach.”