Netanyahu defeats Blue and White in polls for the first time

Parties bash each other over terror attack in Ariel that left one dead.

Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party took the lead over Blue and White in a poll released Sunday, for the first time since the formation of the party of former IDF chiefs Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi and former finance minister Yair Lapid.
The Direct Polls survey taken for public broadcaster KAN found if the April 9 election took place now, Likud would win 31 seats, and Blue and White 30. Netanyahu’s right-center bloc had a 63-57 majority over Gantz’s center-left, which would enable Netanyahu to form another right-wing coalition.
The poll was released as the two parties attacked each other on security issues, following the murder of St.-Sgt. Gal Keidan by a terrorist near Ariel on Sunday.
Culture Minister Miri Regev told reporters outside Sunday’s cabinet meeting that Gantz and Lapid want to form a government with Arab MKs and “this weak Left will lead to more attacks.” Likud candidate Gideon Sa’ar criticized her statement. Netanyahu’s office denied reports that he summoned Regev in an effort to restrain her.
“The incident hasn’t ended and the dead are not yet buried and Miri Regev, who is a former senior IDF officer, is already dancing on the blood with cheap politics,” Ashkenazi said. “There’s also a state to run. She should be ashamed of herself. Stop, we are sick of it.”
Speaking at a Blue and White rally in Haifa, Gantz lamented that “politicians decided to take advantage of the attack for political gain,” referring to Regev.
“In the past, it was clear that dancing on blood was unacceptable,” Gantz said. “But this government does not think that applies to them. If a politician does that in my government, I will give them 48 hours to quit.”
Gantz vowed to not attack Netanyahu the way the Likud has been attacking him.
“People are telling me, ‘Benny go get him,’ but we are trying to make change,” he said. “I don’t want to make ourselves into what we don’t want to be.”
Nevertheless, Gantz called Netanyahu “weak on security” and criticized him for facilitating the transfer of funding to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and talking about Iran’s nuclearization without doing anything to stop it.
Gantz also unleashed a new attack on Netanyahu for the so-called “Submarine Affair,” in which Israel purchased submarines from a German company that was allegedly connected to the prime minister’s relative and attorney David Shimron. He called for a commission of inquiry to probe whether there was corruption related to Netanyahu in the deal, which Gantz claimed made the prime minister NIS 16 million.
“The prime minister sold the holiest of holies for personal profit,” Gantz alleged.
The Likud responded that Netanyahu was cleared of any wrongdoing in the affair by police, and that it was especially wrong of Gantz to make such a charge on such a day.
“It’s shameful that on the day an IDF soldier was murdered, Lapid and Gantz try by force to revive the ‘Submarine Affair’ that Netanyahu was cleared in,” the Likud said. “The prime minister did not make any money on that agreement. This is just a false charge by man hurting [in the polls], who has lost his judgment.”
The rest of the polls shows Labor with 9 seats; Hadash-Ta'al 8; UTJ 6; Shas 6; New Right 6; URP 6; Meretz 6; Zehut 4; Yisrael Beytenu 4; Ra'am-Balad 4.
Kulanu and Gesher are not expected to pass the electoral threshold.