First polls after Netanyahu's Congress speech find slight gain for Likud

Surveys sponsored by leading Israeli TV channels show Likud and Zionist Unions parties neck-in-neck.

Netanyahu and Herzog (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Herzog
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress helped bring about a modest boost for his Likud party, according to polls sponsored by Channels 2 and 10 that were broadcast Wednesday night.
Hopes in the Likud for a major gain and in the Zionist Union for no change at all were both quashed.
A Dialog poll on Channel 10 found the Likud had gained two seats and that it was now tied for the lead with the Zionist Union at 23 Knesset mandates. When the poll asked who is fit to be prime minister, 44 percent said Netanyahu and 35% said Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog.
The incumbent’s lead has risen by 4 percentage points since last week.
A Midgam poll on Channel 2 had the Likud gaining one seat and remaining one mandate behind the Zionist Union, 24 to 23. In that survey, the Center-Right bloc lost two seats in one week to the Center-Left. On the question of who is fit to be prime minister, the Midgam poll gave Netanyahu a large advantage, 47% against 28%.
Likud officials were cautiously optimistic after the polls but said their own in-depth study of public opinion following the speech to Congress would not be completed until Friday.
“We just need to hope that in the last two weeks before the election, the focus of the race will be on matters of consequence because, if it is, we will continue to gain support,” said Likud MK Yariv Levin, who served as coalition chairman for much of the outgoing Knesset’s term.
A Zionist Union spokesman said the results of the surveys indicated that the public was smart enough to see through Netanyahu’s attempt to use an address to Congress for political gain.
“Now it is clear that Netanyahu’s speech has resulted in absolutely nothing,” the Zionist Union spokesman said. “For a seat or two in the polls, Netanyahu harmed the country’s security and its alliance with the US.”
A Zionist Union spokesman denied reports that the party’s No. 2 candidate, MK Tzipi Livni, was seriously considering giving up her claim to a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office with Herzog.
According to one report, Zionist Union officials indicated Livni had lost the joint list four Knesset seats in the polls.
The Likud released a campaign video on Wednesday showing the Zionist Union’s camera moving leftward to cover only Herzog and ignore Livni, who was sitting beside him.
A new ad by the Zionist Union highlighted criticism of Netanyahu by recently retired IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz.
The anti-Netanyahu organization V15 released an ad in which the prime minister says in his Iran speech that the alternative to a bad deal is a much better deal. The commercial implies that Netanyahu remaining prime minister is a bad deal for Israelis and that they have an alternative to replace him.