Five days before election day, the latest polls were published in Israel, and from Friday onwards it is forbidden by law to prophesy in the Jewish State, a law which we would gladly add to the year-round list of prohibitions.
Here are the results of three of the final polls, and they all represent one strong trend: Netanyahu manages to “drink” the votes of his opponents on the right, but paradoxically, the more Bibi takes from his nemesis, the lower his prospects to cobble together a 61-seat coalition government.
Here are the scores, we remind you they are but a snapshot, actual results may be a lot farther than they appear.
Should these be the real results on Wednesday morning (or Friday at the latest, since the vote will be even more complex than usual, with numerous special stations added to accommodate the Corona victims) it appears that once again Israel may be facing new elections.
The “anyone but Bibi” block is not the foundation for a coalition government, including as it does between 16 and 18 members (Liberman’s and Sa’ar’s factions) who are to the right of Netanyahu on many issues, and certainly won’t sit down in the same government with Arabs.
But Netanyahu appears to be walking into his fourth pyrrhic victory in two years, winning the battle and losing the war (a Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat).
For Netanyahu to win in this situation, he will have to lose a little. He would have to be magnanimous and extend his arms to the two men he loathes almost as much as he does Avigdor Liberman, namely Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar. He has ignored them, ridiculed, and attacked them, but now he needs them, and they won’t come cheap.
This would be a good opportunity for Bennett and Sa’ar to forge a brotherly pact worth between 18 and 20 mandates since on most issues there’s hardly any daylight between these two right-wing parties. Together they can squeeze Netanyahu and take a large portion of his lunch.
The big problem is that Netanyahu doesn’t mind a fifth election round, because he would get to remain the prime minister of a caretaker government. He doesn’t even mind that without a budget, his government has been running on the 2019 budget, with deficits pushing $35 billion. All Netanyahu appears to care about is his own survival at the helm, which would be the only safe place for him when his court hearings resume in the spring.
The polls also matched Netanyahu with his three opponents, and there the results were fascinating in the Maariv poll, where Netanyahu leads Sa’ar 45-41; Lapid 51-37; and against Bennett, the score is 41-41.
The sad part is that both Bennett and Sa’ar are Likudniks who were pushed aside by Netanyahu despite their enormous popularity within the party and with right-wing voters. There was no reason for this to be a war between Likud leaders had the man at the top shown the capacity to groom and encourage his heirs apparent. But Bibi notoriously eats his young and has been canceling the most gifted Likud members, surrounding himself instead with second-rate yea-sayers.