Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid visited Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman at his party’s headquarters in Modi’in on Thursday and discussed the possibility of forming what Liberman’s spokesman called a “liberal Zionist bloc” after the election.
The meeting came a day after Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett declared on Wednesday morning that Yamina would not join a government led by Lapid and speculation intensified that Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party would unite with Yamina after the election to form a bloc larger than Yesh Atid.
A new Panels Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and Maariv newspapers on Thursday after Bennett’s announcement found that if elections would be held now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be able to form a government, but the leader of the Sa’ar/Bennett bloc or the Lapid/Liberman bloc could easily do so.
Netanyahu’s bloc of Likud (29 seats), Shas (eight), United Torah Judaism (seven) and the Religious Zionist Party (four) would win 48 seats, according to the poll. Even with Yamina (11) of Bennett, who has not ruled out joining a Netanyahu-led coalition, the prime minister would have 59, two short of the 61 needed for a majority of the Knesset.
The anti-Netanyahu bloc, however, would win the 52 seats of Yesh Atid (17), New Hope (14), Yisrael Beytenu (seven), Blue and White (five), Labor (five) and Meretz (four). Yamina’s 11 mandates would result in a coalition of 63 seats, but it would be unclear who would become prime minister.
The potential Sa’ar/Bennett bond would create a faction of 25 seats. The Lapid/Liberman merger would yield a faction of 24.
Lapid reacted to Bennett’s announcement for the first time on Thursday morning, when he wrote on Facebook that the only coalition Netanyahu could build would be too extreme.
“This is the full right-wing government he is talking about,” Lapid wrote. “This could cause a disaster for Israel in the international sphere, with the Biden administration and the Jewish community of the United States. How will it deal with the economy? You think there is blackmail now? This is nothing compared to the most blackmailed government in the history of the state, which will give all the money to haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties and isolated settlements.”
When Yamina voters were asked by pollster Menachem Lazar whether their party should enter a coalition with Netanyahu or his opponents, 41% said the former and 41% said the latter. Six percent said he should not join either, even if it meant initiating another election, and 12% said they did not know.
The poll of 593 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population had a margin of error of 4.2%.