The Likud’s aggressive campaign against HaBayit HaYehudi and its chairman Naftali Bennett is working like a boomerang against Netanyahu’s party, according to a new poll conducted for Walla by TNS Teleseker. If elections were conducted today, according to this poll, Jewish Home, the successor of historic NRP, would be clearing 15 seats, while Likud-Beiteinu would be cropped down to 35 seats (from its current 42). These are the only significant changes in this poll, leaving all the rest of the contender about where they were on Sunday.
In other words, as we’ve suggested last week, Bennett benefited from the attacks on him by TV’s Nissim (“Beast”) Mishal, followed by stern rebukes from the left and the right, but, most emphatically from Likud – have worked in Bennett’s favor. Asked if he would refuse a command to evict a Jew from his home, Bennett answered in the negative – forcing Netanyahu et al to position themselves to his left. And the folks at home, many of whom could be subject to just such an eviction notice from the next government, got the message.
Shas maintains its 10 seats in today’s poll, and Torah Judaism, likewise, retains its 6 seats (up from the current 5). Labor stays at 18. Lapid takes 10 and Livni 11 – a slight rise for both compared to the earlier poll conducted by Mina Tzemach, but they continue to claim a 20-seat block together.
Power to Israel, Kadima and Rabbi Amsalem are all out, their votes absorbed both by Livni-Lapid and Bennett.
It’s important to note that Netanyahu’s current sluggish performance is being made even worse because of his decision to run on the same list with his former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman. Of the 35 seats Likud-Beiteinu captures in today’s poll, only 22 report to him, and 13 are commanded by his partner—who’s having his own headaches with the prosecution. This is a net drop of 5 seats for Likud from their current 27.
Despite’s Bennett’s success, overall, today’s poll marks a drop for the right, to 50 seats, and a rise for the left to 43. The Haredim stay at 16 and the Arabs at 11.
Two choices emerge from today’s poll for a Netanyahu-led coalition government:
One: (we like OK) would include Labor and Jewish Home, which could co-exist as long as Labor maintains its mild pro-settlements stance. It gives Netanyahu a solid 68 seat majority, and as long as he keeps Labor away from Treasury, he could rule with relative ease (well, with relative stability).
Two: (we like even better) would combine Netanyahu with the Haredim and Jewish Home, for a solid, right-wing (if you can call Shas right-wing) coalition of 66.
Three: (we hate) Netanyahu goes with the Haredim and Labor, gives them all the concessions they feel entitled to, reverses some of his economic policies at the expense of the country’s fiscal well being, and starts chopping away at the settlements – to guarantee for himself U.S. and European support over Iran.
Frankly, the only way to avoid the last option—which is, actually, the classic Likud choice over the past few decades—is to up Jewish Homes take even more. To do that, Bennett would have to appeal to the non-religious Israelis. And while his program is quite interesting and innovative on issues close to the heart of the secular, Bennett would have to get over their prejudices and speak to them directly, over the heads of the media.
It can be done. On Monday – four days after Bennett’s statement on refusal to evict –the very secular agricultural high school Eshel Hanasi held its mock elections and 1,022 students from the elite of the Moshav movement in the south gave 18 percent of their votes to Likud-Beiteinu, same as they did Yair Lapid’s party. But the big winner was the Jewish home, with 37 percent.