Despite, or perhaps because of the comment by Jewish Home’s chairman Naftali Bennett, his party’s popularity has not suffered among Israeli voters, according to a poll conducted on Sunday for Channel 2 News by Panels Politics.
Were the elections held on Sunday, Jewish Home would receive 13 seats in the 19th Knesset. Its sister party, Power to Israel, chaired by Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari, was boosted to three seats from its current two. That places 16 MKs to the right of Netanyahu’s troubled Likud Beiteinu, which scored only 36 seats (down from its current 42).
Labor also retains its power, staying with 18 seats. Shas is the fourth largest party, with 10 (same as what it had in the outgoing Knesset).
The poll checked on the public’s reaction to Naftali Bennett’s comment. Out of those identifying themselves as Jewish Home voters, a whopping 92% believe Bennett when he says he did not intend to encourage IDF soldiers to refuse orders. Among the voters at large, 23% said their respect for Bennett went down, 17% said it went up, 50% said it didn’t change, and 10% were not sure.
Come January 23, Prime Minister Elect Netanyahu will have these blocks with which to form a coalition. He needs 61 seats, but, obviously, would be shooting for closer to 70. Whichever way he chooses will signal his direction for the next 4 years.
The scariest option would be a coalition of Likud and the leftwing parties: Labor, Livni, and Lapid. Despite Tzipi Livni’s loud proclamations of refusing to sit next to the same table with Bibi, she might be tempted to join forces and support a final solution to the conflict with Israel’s neighbors. Bad news for the settlements, but not the likeliest scenario, given Likud’s own move to the right.
The other, more likely option, is a coalition of Likud with the Haredim and Labor. It would give Netanyahu industrial peace on the economic front (Labor is notoriously flexible in its partnerships with Likud). It would also make things harder for the settlements, but not as hard as in option one.
The third option is more wishful thinking than a possibility: Likud with the historic NRP, plus some Haredim. It isn’t likely because Netanyahu has made up his mind to push for a 2-state solution in a more tangible way, and Bibi really dislikes Naftali Bennett, his former chief of staff.
As always, we recommend intense prayer by one and all.