Former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat could bring the Likud many more seats than other potential successors to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Panels Research poll taken on Wednesday and Thursday for media outlets in The Jerusalem Post Group.
The poll of 650 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population, found that Netanyahu is by far the strongest candidate as head of Likud.
If elections were held now with Likud and other parties maintaining their current leadership, Likud would win 33 seats, Yesh Atid 19, Blue and White 9; Shas and the Religious Zionist Party 8, United Torah Judaism, the Joint List and Labor 7, Yisrael Beytenu and Yamina 6, Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List) 5.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party would not cross the electoral threshold. If Barkat would head Likud, the party would win 29 seats, losing four mandates to Yamina, Shas, the Religious Zionist Party, and Blue and White. But Likud would still beat Yesh Atid by 10 seats.
By contrast, MKs Yuli Edelstein, Israel Katz, and Miri Regev would have a harder time winning the most seats as head of Likud.Katz would win 22 seats and Edelstein 21, each narrowly defeating Yesh Atid, which would win 20 mandates. The Likud would be harmed by New Hope crossing the threshold and taking mandates away.
If Regev would head Likud, the party would tie with Yesh Atid at 20 seats. Elections for the Likud’s candidate for prime minister in the next election have yet to be set. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4%.
Meanwhile, Channel 12 reported on Saturday night that Ra’am (the United Arab List) has decided to boycott Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked due to disputes over several legislative issues pertaining to her ministry. The main dispute is over Ra’am faction chairman Waleed Taha’s electricity bill, which would allow thousands of illegally built Arab homes to be hooked up to the national electricity grid.
According to the report, Ra’am has asked to work with someone else in the government instead of Shaked.Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas faced criticism inside his party over the weekend for his consistent conciliatory approach. He especially angered Ra’am officials when he defended Jewish settlers and asked not to make generalities about them, just like any other sector.
Shaked will face another challenge on Sunday when a controversial immigration bill proposed by the Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman will come to a vote in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. He intends to bring it to a vote in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
The Knesset is also due to vote this week on the government’s plan to draft yeshiva students into the IDF.