The tumultuous past nine months have resulted in an expected loss of electoral support for both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and divisive opposition leader Yair Lapid.
The big winner, according to a series of new media surveys, is the more middle-ground and less-aggressive Benny Gantz, head of the National Camp faction that includes lawmakers from the center-left, center and right of the political spectrum, including former Likud hardliners like Gideon Sa’ar.
The polls all carried very similar results, so we’ll take a look at just one, that of Channel 12 News.
According to this survey, Gantz’s National Camp and Netanyahu’s Likud would both win 27 seats in Knesset if elections were held today.
Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would win 18.
The rest of the Knesset would look like this:
Shas – 10 seats
Religious Zionism – 9 seats
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) – 7 seats
Israel Beiteinu – 6 seats
Joint Arab List – 5 seats
Ra’am – 5 seats
Meretz – 5 seats
Notably, the once-powerful Labor Party would fail to pass the electoral threshold. (The above only totals 119 seats, but because at least two major parties would fail to pass the electoral threshold, it is unclear at this time where their votes would go and which party would receive an extra seat.)
Today, Gantz’s party has only 12 seats, so where do all the new seats come from? The polls show that they come from both Likud and Yesh Atid, which today have 32 and 24 seats, respectively.
And this suggests that the electorate, both to the right and to the left, are dissatisfied with their current leaders (Netanyahu and Lapid) and seek refuge in the National Camp, which sits between Likud and Yesh Atid on the political map.
There would be a few coalition options in this scenario:
Netanyahu-Gantz unity government: If Netanyahu and Gantz could bury their personal differences and join force, they could theoretically form one of the most stable governments in the history of modern Israel. To give it a majority, this coalition would also need the two Orthodox Jewish parties (Shas and UTJ), with which Gantz is also on good terms.
But Gantz has been burned by Netanyahu before, and is at this point unlikely to join such a coalition under the conditions Bibi would surely impose.
Shaky center-left coalition: The most likely outcome would be for Gantz and Lapid to again join force, this time with Gantz the clear leader, and to establish a coalition with Israel Beiteinu, Meretz and Ra’am.
This coalition would have a slim 61-seat majority, and would be troubled by internal division from the start.
Much like the previous short-lived “government of change,” this coalition would try to bring and keep together Jewish right-wing nationalists (Israel Beiteinu and one wing of National Camp), secular liberals (Meretz, half of National Camp and most of Yesh Atid), and conservative Muslims (Ra’am).
Netanyahu-Gantz-Lapid power coalition: The most stable option on paper would be a unity coalition including Likud, National Camp and Yesh Atid.
In terms of policy, these parties hold fairly similar positions, with some notable variations, like the nationalist wing of Likud opposing a Palestinian state while the more liberal wing of Yesh Atid begrudgingly accepts such an outcome.
The reason this coalition almost certainly won’t happen has everything to do with the personal animosity between the party leaders. At this point, Lapid has staked his political career on opposing and unseating Netanyahu. To now change course would be political suicide.
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