Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog was ousted from his post on Tuesday and next Monday the party will choose between two candidates who until recently were members of other parties: Amir Peretz and Avi Gabbai. A Channel 2 News poll asked which of the two would reduce the yawning gap between Labor and Likud and discovered neither is going to perform electoral miracles.
The poll, conducted among a scientific sample of 500 respondents, age 18 and above, found that should Gabbai head Labor, the party will receive 14 seats in the next elections – versus 28 seats to Likud. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will jump back to 21 seats, the Joint Arab List will retain its 13 seats, Kulanu would edge up to 11 seats, Habayit Hayehudi will get 9 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Meretz and UTJ will receive 6 Knesset seats each and Shas will receive 5 seats.
On the other hand, should Peretz win the leadership at Labor, the party would receive 15 seats in the elections, while the Likud would win 29 Knesset seats. According to the poll, in such a scenario Yesh Atid will only have 20 seats, Joint Arab List 13, Kulanu 10, Habayit Hayehudi 9 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Meretz and UTJ 6 seats each, and Shas 5 seats.
Which suggests that the mythical Israeli undecided center of about 20% of the voters, which has been deciding elections since the great Likud victory of 1977 over the permanent Labor government (since 1948) – that center is still very much in flux, making up its mind regarding Labor, Yesh Atid, Kulanu and Likud.
One major event could sweep any of the four players into our away from leading or becoming a major partner in a ruling coalition. The battle will be run over the center, while the right and the left will see only minute changes.
This is disappointing news especially to Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, who so far has not manage to recover from the huge drop of the 2015 election (from 12 down to 8). With only 9 votes, and with Lapid and Netanyahu as potential coalition partners (with Labor, Kulanu and Yisrael Beiteinu), it is clear that a Netanyahu bent on a two-state solution would leave Bennett et al in the cold.