Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) landed in the United States on Monday in a bid to help repair the fraying ties between the two countries, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party fell to a dramatic third place in Channel 13 poll with only 20 seats.
The visit comes “comes against the backdrop of the crisis that has intensified in recent weeks between the US and Israel,” Lapid’s spokesperson said.
It’s a trip that subtly underscores US President Joe Biden’s refusal last month to invite Netanyahu to the White House in the near future.
Lapid will meet with American Jewish groups as well as with two Democratic congressmen from New York Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres. As opposition leader, he would not be expected to meet with Biden. When Lapid served as the country’s Prime Minster in July of last year he hosted Biden in Jerusalem.
As Lapid sought to shore up his credential in the diplomatic arena this week, the Channel 13 polls published Sunday, dealt one more blow to Netanyahu.
After months of domestic turmoil over his judicial reform plan, Netanyahu is now also facing a security crisis, with rockets flying across Israel’s northern and southern borders during the last week.
This occurred in conduction with two terror attacks that claimed four civilian lives.
Netanyahu’s political popularity has declined in the last month. Channels 11 and 12 polls released in March placed him at 25 seats, already a drop from the 32 seats he received in the November 2022 election.
Sunday’s Channel 13 poll results — if accurate on an election day — would take Netanyahu out of contention for the premiership with just 20 seats, given that only the two most popular politicians in a general election are given the option to form a government.
Netanyahu has held that first spot through the five rounds of elections Israel has held since April 2019.
According to the poll, 60% of those surveyed said that they didn’t trust the government to prevent terror attacks.
Former Defense Minister and National Unity Party head Benny Gantz, who had received 12 seats in the 2022 elections, took top spot in the Channel 13 poll with 29 mandates.
Lapid, who won 24 seats in the 2022 election, fell to 21, a result similar to the March polls. It put him in second place, after Gantz.The result of the Channel 13 poll, conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs, also showed that Netanyahu’s coalition partners took a hit, with the combined Religious Zionist and Otzma Yehudit parties receiving 11 seats, down from 14 in the 2022 election. The ultra-religious Shas Party dropped from 11 to nine seats and United Torah Judaism from seven to six.
Based on the Channel 13 poll, for which 699 Israelis were surveyed, Netanyahu’s coalition would drop from 64 seats to 46 seats, which would make it impossible for the right-wing parties to form a government.
The smaller parties that could make up a future coalition of 64 seats headed by Gantz or Lapid held their own in the Channel 13 poll, with Labor maintaining its four seats and the Ra’am Party keeping its five seats. The Yisrael Beytenu Party fell from six to five seats.
The Hadash-Ta’al Party went up from five to six seats, according to Sunday’s poll, while the Balad Party crossed the threshold with four seats. Neither of the two parties, which represent the Israeli-Arab community, are expected to join any government coalition.
The poll’s results have a reported margin of error of +/-3.7%.