Israel Elections: ‘Post’ poll: Still a political deadlock

Mansour Abbas now passes threshold.

VOTES ARE counted at a tent in the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham last March. (photo credit: FLASH90)
VOTES ARE counted at a tent in the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham last March.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Israel could be on its way to a fifth election in just over two years unless parties break their political promises, a new Panels Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and Maariv found on Thursday.
The poll predicted 27 seats for Likud and 20 for Yesh Atid, just like last week. Yamina is in third place with 11 seats and New Hope has dropped to fourth with 10, after they tied for third at 12 seats last week.
The Joint List, Yisrael Beytenu and Shas were predicted to win eight seats, United Torah Judaism seven and Labor five. Four parties were predicted to win four seats, teetering on the 3.25% electoral threshold: Blue and White, Meretz, the Religious Zionist Party and for the first time, Ra’am (United Arab List), led by MK Mansour Abbas.
The bloc that wants Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government – Likud, Shas, UTJ and the Religious Zionist Party – received 46 seats.
The bloc that does not want him to remain prime minister – Yesh Atid, New Hope, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Blue and White and Meretz – received 51.
Yamina could join forces with the anti-Netanyahu bloc and use its 11 seats to enable the formation of a 62-seat coalition, but Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has ruled out a coalition with Meretz.
Bennett’s party could also join Netanyahu’s bloc and enable a minority coalition backed from outside by Ra’am. But Religious Zionist Party leaders Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir ruled that out.
“Read my lips: I won’t sit with Mansour Abbas,” Ben-Gvir told the Post. “We need a full right-wing coalition with 61 MKs, and with God’s help, we will get one.”
Smotrich said that in such a scenario, there would be tremendous pressure on former Likud members in New Hope to join the coalition and prevent another election.
Sources close to Bennett said a fifth election was not an option.
“Anyone who will be in a position to either create a coalition or force a fifth election would be dead if they chose the latter,” Bennett’s strategist George Birnbaum wrote on Facebook.
The poll of 573 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population, was taken on Thursday and had a margin of error of 4.2%.
Meanwhile, New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa’ar, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit all took explicit or implicit shots at Netanyahu and others who have allegedly aimed political attacks at the legal establishment.
Speaking at a conference at Bar Ilan University on Thursday night, Sa’ar said that “a strong and independent legal establishment is very critical in a democratic state.”
At the same time, he said that a delicate balance must be struck because “for many years there has been no reform, but this [reform] is needed. But it is needed to fix and not to destroy. I don’t want to come with a D9 [bulldozer to attack the High Court of Justice], but, yes, I want to fix the attorney-general’s office and law enforcement,” as well as the balance between the High Court and the Knesset.
Gantz, who is both defense and justice minister, listed a litany of complaints with Netanyahu, saying that if Blue and White had not been part of the most recent government, the prime minister would have passed laws to grant him immunity from prosecution, and would have canceled the indictment against him, even mid-trial.
In addition, Gantz slammed Netanyahu for refusing to make permanent appointments to the Justice and Communications ministries, in some cases despite orders from the High Court of Justice.
“At the start he was talking about [the prosecution] manufacturing cases [against him],...” Gantz said referring to Netanyahu. “Now he is even accusing the attorney-general of bringing coronavirus mutations to Israel. The climax was when he told people to rise up against Salah a-din [referring to Justice Ministry headquarters]... this could lead to blood.”
He also complimented IDF lawyers as having given him independent but useful legal advice during discussions about how to select certain hard case military targets.
Gantz said that IDF legal advice would protect Israel from problems before the International Criminal Court.
Pressed about a theoretical situation where the judicial branch must stay out of things and avoid being too activist, he referred back to his experience as IDF chief.
“Sometimes you must quickly decide in the IDF whether or not to attack,” he said. “Later, the High Court can evaluate what you decided. A targeted assassination to stop a terrorist, you need to do immediately, but a house demolition” cannot be done immediately, and the High Court should have time to review the issue beforehand, and in some cases it has even intervened.
While Mandelblit was much more careful about his criticism of Netanyahu, the attorney-general also made it clear that he viewed attacks on the attorney-general’s office as problematic, and that maintaining the rule of law could only be done if the legal establishment remains independent.