An Israel Radio/Rafi Smith survey on Friday revealed that a new center-right party led by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), former Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar (Likud), and still serving Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) would have won as many as 25 seats in the next Knesset, if the vote were conducted today.
The new, imaginary party, which for the time being is only based on the fantasies of the folks who conducted the survey and the 500 folks, Jews and Arabs, who answered, will apparently be the big winner of the next elections. Likud would be demoted to 21 seats (from 30); Lapid’s Yesh Atid’s rise would be tamed, only 2 new seats, from 11 to 13; the Zionist Camp (they really should go back to calling themselves simply Labor) would be crushed, from 24 down to 11; the Joint Arab List would retain its 13 seats; Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi would grow from 8 to 10; Yisrael Beiteinu up from 6 to 8; United Torah Judaism up nicley from 6 to 8; Shas would remain stuck with its 6 seats; and Meretz likewise with its 5.
The question is, even considering the above fantasy scenario, whether the Ya’alon-Kahlon-Sa’ar triumvirate, assuming they would be able to overcome their egos to allow one of them to lead, would be able to form a coalition and with whom.
If they go left, they could add Lapid, Labor and Meretz for a 54-seat coalition, which could rule with the tacit, conditional support of the Arabs.
If they go right, they would have to add Netanyahu and Lapid, for a 59-seat coalition, and then, possibly, Labor, giving them a hefty, 70-seat coalition.
But should the imaginary party not be able to forge a coalition, the president would then turn to Netanyahu, yet again, who would combine Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu, UTJ and Shas to get 53 seats, and then bring in an additional partner, possibly even the very triumvirate that couldn’t.
The fact is that even in their fantasy, the center parties find it difficult to make do without Bibi.
The same survey also polled the 500 likely voters as to their choice today without a dream team running: Likud goes down to 28 (from 30), making it still the unavoidable leader; Labor is cut down from 24 to 15; Yesh Atid goes up to 19; Kahlon’s Kulanu virtually disappears, down to 6; UTJ 8; Shas 7; Lieberman 8; Meretz 5, Arabs 13.
Which would mean the exact same players in Netanyahu’s current coalition could stay on, but they would have more votes to offer the slightly reduced Likud and without Kahlon. Netanyahu’s next government would then have a 61-seat majority, with Habayit Hayehudi as the second-largest partner. Kahlon could then be invited to come back, but on radically less favorable terms.David Israel