Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke for the first time with senior Likud officials on Sunday about the establishment of the new right-wing party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and said that “this is a mortal blow to the national camp that could lead to the establishment of a leftist government,” Israel Today reported on Monday.
A survey published on Sunday by the Miskar Institute, which is considered to be authoritative on the Religious Zionist sector, showed that the Likud will receive only 13% of the votes of the National-Religious public. The survey found that although many National-Religious voters would leave the Habayit Hayehudi party with Bennett and Shaked, 40% of Religious Zionist voters will support a united list of Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union in the upcoming elections. A quarter of the sector’s voters will transfer their support to the New Right party.
Otzma Yehudit (Rabbi Kahane’s followers) will receive 7% of the sector’s votes, Zehut headed by Moshe Feiglin 3.5%, and the Yahad list of ousted Shas chairman Eli Yishai will receive 2%.
According to the latest polls, Shas, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu are hovering around the threshold vote.
Netanyahu is afraid that if only one of these parties fails to enter the Knesset, the 49-seat blocking bloc of the right could collapse.
It appears that the target audience to which Bennett and Shaked aspire are the Mesorati (traditional-Orthodox) Likud voters, who make kiddush on Shabbat morning and then go to the soccer stadium to cheer for Beitar Yerushalayim, as well as the right-wing audience that considers voting for Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Orly Levy-Abekasis and Moshe Kahlon.
Bennett and Shaked will likely leave the National Religious Party (NRP) voters to the Bloc of Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union – and this should keep Netanyahu awake nights, this and of course, the indictments being written against him by the State Attorney’s Office these days, which would very possibly be brought before the courts ahead of the April 9 elections.
The Miskar survey also asked what the voters would do if Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union ran separately, as well as how they would vote should the threshold percentage be eliminated and a single MK could be elected from each list. 23% said they would vote for the National Union (likely headed by Smotrich), 22% will vote for the New Right party (Bennet and Shaked), 14.5% Habayit Hayehudi, 12% Otzma Yehudit, 11% Likud, 8% Zehut, and 3% the Yahad party (Eli Yishai).
The survey selected 400 respondents, 27% holding Religious Zionist views, 35% with “classic Religious Zionist” views, 23% with a liberal religious Zionist outlook, and 15% with religious beliefs that do not meet the other definitions.
The survey also asked for the identity of the preferred candidate to lead the Habayit Hayehudi – National Union list, and 58% supported were Bezalel Smotritch. the current chairman of the National Union, Uri Ariel, received 13%, Moti Yogev 10%, and Eli Ben Dahan only 7%.
On the question of who should lead the New Right party, 57% said they wanted Ayelet Shaked, compared with 43% who chose Naftali Bennett.