Herzog blames Lapid refusal to form centrist bloc for dip in poll

Zionist Union MK calls for party to reflect on its direction; Bennett unimpressed by his party’s 30% rise.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a Limmud FSU gathering at Kibbutz Ginosar, December 18, 2015 (photo credit: ANDREY DEVEIKIN)
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a Limmud FSU gathering at Kibbutz Ginosar, December 18, 2015
(photo credit: ANDREY DEVEIKIN)
The Center-Left has to form a large bloc in order to win an election, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said on Saturday night, in response to a Jerusalem Post/ Maariv Sof Hashavua poll, in which support for his party dropped significantly.
“If I lived according to the polls, I would have already been prime minister for a year,” Herzog quipped at a cultural event in Mevaseret Zion.
The Panels Research survey, taken on Wednesday and Thursday, belied hopes in the Zionist Union that Herzog’s “Separation Plan,” entailing unilateral steps in anticipation of an eventual two-state solution, which Herzog has said is not possible in the short term, would woo centrist voters from the Likud and Yesh Atid.
The poll found that if an election were held now, the Likud would win 27 Knesset seats, down from its current 30. Yesh Atid would rise from 11 to 18 MKs and the Zionist Union would fall from 24 to 15. Bayit Yehudi and the Joint List would each get 12 seats, a gain of four for the former and a drop of one for the latter. Yisrael Beytenu would rise from six to 10 seats, Shas would remain steady at seven and United Torah Judaism would gain one seat to reach seven. Meretz and Kulanu would get six seats each, meaning an increase of one and a loss of four, respectively.
Herzog said of the poll that “in politics there are ups and downs,” and that a large Center-Left bloc was needed in order to take power from the Right.
The opposition leader added that Yesh Atid chairman Yair “Lapid is preventing the formation of a bloc,” but said he still hopes to expand the Zionist Union, which is made up of Labor and MK Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party.
MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union) called for Labor to engage in self-examination.
“After almost a year since the election, we have to learn the lessons and examine our own house,” he said. “The Labor Party and the Zionist Union must return to the center of the political map, as it was in the days of [prime ministers] Ben-Gurion and Rabin.”
Broshi and several other Labor MKs held a conference on Sunday evening to discuss how to move the party more to the Center.
“Labor must prepare itself, define and refresh its identity and learn and understand why for many years we have not led the country or formed a government. We cannot lose the next election. The Labor Party must return to the center,” Broshi said at the conference.
Broshi called to make socioeconomic and security and diplomacy issues equal priorities and to focus on the Negev and the Galilee.
“A just economy and society, equality and social justice and an aspiration for peace and an agreement based on two states with an assertive and responsible security policy” are what the party needs, he said.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett seemed unimpressed by his Bayit Yehudi party’s rise in the poll, saying in an interview on Channel 2’s Meet the Press: “There is a gap between the polls and what happens in elections, and we are busy doing what is good for the people of Israel.
“Polls are nice, but we are revolutionizing math [education] and shrinking social gaps,” he said.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.