Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Ayelet Shaked and Benjamin Netanyahu, December 21, 2016.

A Midgam Institute survey published by N12 News Wednesday night predicts for the first time some movement on the right in case Ayelet Shaked runs as Naftali Bennett’s replacement at the helm of the Yamina party. Shaked responded with this tweet, headlined: We get moving (the Hebrew, “yotzim la’derech,” literally means we go out on the road, which isn’t so zippy).


Shaked also tweeted this image of herself finding God at the ladies’ section of the Kotel:

But enough about Naftali Bennett’s battered work wife, here are the poll results, and they are extremely encouraging for the man who ruled Israel before Bennett and Lapid. If the elections were held on Wednesday, these would be the results:

Likud – 34
Yesh Atid – 20
Blue&White – 9
Religious Zionism – 9
Shas – 8
United Torah Judaism – 7
Joint Arab List – 6
Labor – 5
Israel Beiteinu – 5
Yamina – 5
Ra’am – 4
Meretz – 4
New Hope – 4

Now, before we continue, please note that the survey involved only 505 respondents ages 18 and up and that its margin of error was +-4.4 – not the most reliable. At the same time, the survey does seem to match all the recent surveys.

First, the math: should Shaked’s Yamina agree to join a Netanyahu coalition government––and there’s no reason to believe they won’t––it looks like Bibi is back in charge:

Likud 34 + RZ 9 + Shas 8 + UTJ 7 + Yamina 5 = 63.

There are a few wrinkles, though: first, Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich loathes his former partner Shaked. He felt personally injured by her and Bennett’s decision to run with the left and with an Islamist party, and spent the past year attacking them, sometimes viciously; second, at least two Yamina faction members who betrayed Shaked and Bennett––Nir Orbach and Idit Silman––will most likely be given realistic slots on the Likud’s election slate, and Shaked would have to live with it; and third, most important, Netanyahu fears and loathes Shaked whom he has always seen as a potential rival for the leadership of Likud.

One more wrinkle, not necessarily related to Shaked, which I have repeated here ad nauseam, Netanyahu is not looking to lead a purely right-wing coalition government in which he would mark the left. He does not want to impose Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, he does not want free Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, he does not want a religious-Zionist chief rabbi, and most important, he does not want to be responsible for implementing the two-state solution – he wants a leftist partner whom he could shoot down on that item.

In light of all of the above, the natural move for Netanyahu after the election would be to approach Blue&White Chairman Benny Gantz and offer him the defense ministry, again. Because Netanyahu would rather have Shaked out and Gantz in. Remember the election slogans of Bezalel Smotrich asking for your vote so he would be there to make sure Bibi stirs the ship to the right? Well, Bibi doesn’t want a powerful Smotrich giving him carpal tunnel. He wants Gantz to his left, with invites to Mahmoud Abbas and harassments of the settlers which he, Bibi, would get to condemn and come out clean as a powdered baby.

But above all: a poll with only 505 respondents is not an oracle. We still have no idea how this next election breaks. Heck, we don’t yet know when it’s taking place. Although the Knesset should decide that one on Thursday. Or not.

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