‘Post’ poll shows mergers capable of bringing down Netanyahu

Two polls show different trends on center-left - one with Huldai and Gantz still in play, another with Gantz below the threshold and Lapid picking up votes.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in the Knesset on Tuesday. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in the Knesset on Tuesday.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Mergers between the New Hope and Yamina parties and Yesh Atid with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s Israelis Party would present an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, a poll taken for The Jerusalem Post found on Thursday.
If both of those mergers take place, the Likud would win 31 seats, New Hope-Yamina 29, Yesh Atid-Israelis 22, the Joint List 11, Shas and United Torah Judaism 8 each, Yisrael Beytenu 6 and Meretz 5. The presumption in the poll was that the New Hope-Yamina merger would be led by Gideon Sa’ar and the Yesh Atid-Israelis bond by Yair Lapid.
By contrast, if neither of those mergers happen and the list of parties remains as it is now,  a poll taken by Panels showed that the Likud would win 28 seats, New Hope 18, Yesh Atid 14, Yamina 13 and the Joint List 10 each, Shas  8, UTJ 7, Yisrael Beytenu 7, the Israelis Party 6, Meretz 5 and Blue and White 4.
Another option checked by the first poll was the impact of Bezalel Smotrich running separately from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina. Smotrich changed the name of his National Union on Wednesday to the Religious Zionist Party.
The poll found that Yamina would not be harmed at all by such a move, while Smotrich would have a tough time crossing the threshold. It also showed, unlike the Panels poll, that the center-left was coalescing around Yesh Atid, pushing down Huldai and Blue and White. 
Likud would win 30 seats, Yesh Atid 19, New Hope 18, Yamina and the Joint List 11 each, Shas and UTJ 8 each, Yisrael Beytenu 6, Meretz 5 and the Israelis Party 4, on the cusp of the 3.25% electoral threshold.
Unlike Panels, in this poll Blue and White, Labor and the new parties of former accountant-general Yaron Zelekha and former Yesh Atid MK Ofer  Shelah would not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold in any of the three scenarios in the poll.
Labor, which has not yet decided on its leader, would not even win 1% of the vote.
The poll of the mergers was taken by Smith Research while the poll of the mandates was taken by Panels. Smith Research also works with Likud. 
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz told Channel 12 in an interview on Thursday night that rumors of Blue and White running together with Yamina were “bubbemeises.” Asked if he wanted to apologize to Lapid for saying in an interview on the channel last week that he “hates people,” Gantz said he was “sorry if Lapid was offended” by what he said.
Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman called on Sa’ar not to form a coalition with Shas and UTJ if he would form a government. Sa’ar rejected the call.
“I will not rule out or endorse coalition partners in advance,” Sa’ar told Army Radio on Thursday.•