Coalition heads: Netanyahu wants early election

According to a recent poll, there is a very good chance Netanyahu would be re-elected if elections were held now.

The Knesset votes on the nation-state bill, July 19, 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset votes on the nation-state bill, July 19, 2018
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
All three heads of the parties inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition attended a meeting with him Sunday. The group emerged convinced that he intends to advance the next election to February or March 2019, sources close to them said Sunday.
The meeting with Netanyahu was attended by Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, Shas chairman Arye Deri and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett. After hearing Netanyahu speak about how difficult it would be to resolve disputes over conscription and conversion, they received an impression from him that he would prefer an early election.
The Knesset returns from its summer recess on October 15, however, a Knesset election is not expected to be initiated until a month later, following municipal races. It would apparently have to be set before the Supreme Court's-imposed deadlines on both conscription and conversion in December.
In an earlier meeting Sunday with Likud ministers, the prime minister did not supply an answer to the question of the timing of the contest.
“I hear there are those who want to know if there are elections, and if so, when,” he said. “The answer is there is no decision.”
Netanyahu’s chances of getting reelected were predicted to be very good, according to a new poll by Midgam pollsters Mano Geva and Mina Tzemach, broadcasted Sunday night on Channel 2.
The poll found that if elections were held now, Netanyahu’s Likud would rise from its current 30 seats to 32, and former finance minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid would jump from 11 to 18 seats. It predicted that the Zionist Union would lose half of its mandates in the current Knesset, from 24 to 12.
The Joint List would win 12 seats, Bayit Yehudi 10, Kulanu and United Torah Judaism 7 each, Meretz and a new party led by MK Orli Levy-Abecasis 6 each, and Yisrael Beytenu and Shas 5 each.
When asked how they would vote if former IDF chief Benny Gantz headed a new party, respondents gave Likud 29 seats – one less than they have now. Yesh Atid would garner 13, the Joint List 12, Zionist Union 10, UTJ 7, Kulanu 6 and Shas, Yisrael Beytenu and Levy-Abecasis’s party 5 each.
Upon questioning of who is most fit to be prime minister, 38% said Netanyahu, 12% Gantz, 9% Lapid, 5% Liberman, 4% Gabbay and 1% Bennett. 18% said none of the above and 13% declined to respond.
The poll of 517 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population, had an error margin of 4.4%.