Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with then-Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, April 30, 2019.

Here’s one way to look at Tuesday’s Midgam Institute and Mano Geva survey on N12: Just two days ago, former Knesset Speaker and former Health Minister MK Yuli Edelstein announced that he intends to run against Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud party – and the survey proves he would be a disaster for the Likud. Should he win (he doesn’t stand a chance), the Likud led by him is expected to drop about a third of its current seats.

However, as Edelstein himself told N12, “The Likud under my leadership can form a full-fledged right-wing government tomorrow morning,” which he followed with the warning: “If we don’t do what is necessary now – the Likud will remain out.”

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And you know what? Edelstein is right.

According to the survey, with Netanyahu on top, the Likud would emerge as the clear winner of the next election, if they were held today:

Likud – 34
Yesh Atid – 18
Shas – 9
Blue&White – 8
United Torah Judaism – 7
Labor – 7
Yamina – 7
Joint Arab List – 6
Religious Zionism – 6
Israel Beiteinu – 5
Meretz – 5
New Hope – 4
Ra’am – 4

Yes, a huge victory for the Likud under Netanyahu, but a victory that repeats the results of the past four elections, from April 2019 to March 2021, with Likud unable to forge a coalition. Despite its amazing win, the numbers remain more or less as they have been since Netanyahu decided to dissolve the Knesset in 2019: 56 for a purely right-wing coalition, 58 for a right-left coalition. In this case, both sides will remain without the 61 votes needed, which means that in order to keep their coalition, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett et al would have to court the Joint Arab List.

In other words, bad for everyone, including Ra’am which is banking on its being the only Arab party that delivers billion-dollar results for the Arab sector.

On the other hand, these are the numbers should Edelstein, by some divine intervention, lead the Likud party in the next election:

Likud – 20
Yesh Atid – 20
Blue&White – 11
Religious Zionism – 11
Shas – 11
United Torah Judaism – 8
Yamina – 8
Labor – 7
Joint Arab List – 6
Israel Beiteinu – 5
Meretz – 5
New Hope – 4
Ra’am – 4

Take out your calculators, because this time, the numbers have a surprise for you. With Edelstein at the helm, the right-wing coalition would have 62, count them, sixty-two seats, enough to employ a broad and sweeping right-wing agenda, enough to wipe the embarrassments of the strange bedfellows’ coalition. Sure, the Haredim and Yamina would have to make peace and find a way to work together. And Gideon Sa’ar would also have to be integrated after years of exile. But it can’t be denied: without Netanyahu, there would be a huge, undeniable victory for the right, better than it has done in four consecutive elections.

Incidentally, without Netanyahu at the head of Likud, Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism attains the status of a second-tier party, on a par with Benny Gantz’s Blue&White – which this time around would go back to the opposition benches it would share with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

Back to planet Earth: according to the same poll, 86% of Likud party voters surveyed made it clear that they wanted Netanyahu, and only Netanyahu, to lead the party, while only 6% wanted Edelstein. 8% didn’t know. Incidentally, this is remarkably similar to today’s Republican rank & file members who will usher former president Donald Trump to the 2024 nomination.

When the Likud voters were asked by the survey authors if they agreed with Edelstein’s claim that a Netanyahu-led Likud would never return to power, only 17% agreed that the party would remain in the opposition without the change of a chairman, compared to 68% who said Edelstein was wrong.

The survey’s population was a representative sample of the entire population in Israel age 18 and over; the actual number of respondents: 553; the number of participants: 3,741 over the phone and on the Internet; maximum sampling error: + 4.4%.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.
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