First polls after ceasefire show political deadlock is still firmly in place
As the dust settled from the 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza that ended in an early ceasefire on Friday, Israeli politicians renewed their efforts on Sunday to negotiate a coalition deal that will avoid another round of ‘elections.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who holds the president’s mandate to form the next government for the next 10 days, met with Labor leader Merav Michaeli and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to resume frozen talks by the war.
After the meeting with Gantz, the parties issued a statement saying their negotiating teams “will meet to discuss the details in the days to come.”
Lapid hopes to complete the coalition talks by June 2, otherwise the mandate will go to the Knesset as a whole, which will have 21 days to choose a prime minister from among its members. If it doesn’t, the 24th Knesset will automatically dissolve and Israel will face a fifth election within two and a half years.
As Lapid revived coalition talks with center-left parties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was busy Sunday trying to cling to right-wing Yamina to prevent the party from turning to Lapid.
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According to the Walla news site, Likud has offered Yamina chief Naftali Bennett the defense ministry and the post of interim prime minister – the cabinet member who replaces the prime minister when he travels or is in office. incapacitated. The party would also receive seven places in the top 40 Likud list positions in the Knesset if a government failed to be formed.
A Channel 12 report suggested adding that an unspecified high-level cabinet position had also been offered to Ayelet Shaked, not Bennett. 2.
Likud’s offer is significantly reduced from what the party put on the table before the Gaza conflict, which would have seen Bennett become prime minister for at least a year.
Bennett, under pressure from the right and from members of his own slate, particularly Shaked, announced last week that a unity government with Lapid was “off the table.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly accused Bennett of plotting against a right-wing government over the past month. Bennett responded by publicly supporting a Netanyahu-led government, but noting that the right-wing Haredi bloc that backs Netanyahu – including Yamina – only has 59 seats in the current Knesset, two fewer than the 61 needed for a majority. .
Netanyahu and religious Zionist leader Betzalel Smotrich in return insisted that if Bennett publicly abandons the idea of a unity government with the center-left, dissident MPs from Gideon Saar’s New Hope party would join the news. coalition in order to avoid a new election. – although this move is a violation of New Hope’s primary election promise.
Yamina did not appear impressed with Likud’s offer on Sunday, noting in a statement that New Hope’s promised deserters have yet to materialize.
“As we have said from the start, Yamina is interested in establishing a government, not in the imaginary offers of a government that does not exist,” the party said in a statement. “It’s been ten days since Yamina took the ‘change of government’ [without Netanyahu] on the table, and we’re still waiting for the two MPs Netanyahu and Smotrich have promised to find.
In an article earlier Sunday blowing up what he described as Netanyahu’s mismanagement of the country’s affairs and prioritizing “personal and political considerations” to the welfare of the country, Bennett insisted that there were “a number of possibilities for forming a government, if only we ditch the boycotts and understand the needs of the day.”
The vague comment was read by some as indicating that Bennett still hoped for a unity government with centrist Yesh Atid, and by others as a call for Saar to renege on his election promise not to sit in a Netanyahu government, authorizing a right. majority wing government to be elected to power
The chairman of the Likud coalition in the Knesset, MK Miki Zohar, insisted in an interview with Channel 12 on Sunday that “there is always a danger that Bennett will join the ‘change bloc’.”
The dead end remains
Two large polls on Sunday gave an indication of the mood of the public after the ceasefire. The minds of the Israelis were largely unchanged as to who should lead them – the numbers are still deadlocked – and are generally dissatisfied with the conduct of the fighting in Gaza.
In a Channel 12 poll, Likud won 30 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Blue and White 10, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 7, Religious Sionism 7, Labor 6, Israel Beytenu 6, New Hope 6, Yamina 5, the Joint List 5, Meretz 4 and Ra’am 4.
A Channel 13 poll largely confirmed Channel 12’s results, giving Likud one less with 29 seats, and Yesh Atid one more with 22. Blue and White did even better with 11 (four seats more than his current issue), Yamina got 8, Common List 8, Religious Zionism 8, Job 7, Shas 7, Unified Torah Judaism 6, Yisrael Beytenu 5, New Hope 5 and Meretz 4. Ra’am n failed to cross the 3.25% threshold to enter the Knesset.
The numbers suggest that a fifth election will lead to the same stalemate as the last four. Despite the dramatic reshuffle among small parties, both polls give the right-wing Netanyahu-led bloc the same 58 seats, one less than its current 59 and three less than the 61 needed for a majority.
The main winners in a new election, according to the poll, are Yesh Atid, who drops from 17 seats in the current Knesset to 21 or 22, and Blue and White, from 7 to 10 or 11.
Netanyahu has attempted in recent weeks to push forward an idea that would bypass an indecisive fifth election: a single direct vote for the prime minister. Netanyahu has comfortably led by more than 10 points in previous polls that asked Israelis how they would vote in such a direct election.
In the Channel 12 poll, that gap narrows to just five points – 40% for Netanyahu and 35% for Yair Lapid – and in the Channel 13 poll to just four – with 41% for Netanyahu and 37% for Lapid.
Netanyahu wins a more comfortable 60-21 among self-proclaimed right-wing voters, underlining the slow erosion of support he has seen on the right over the past two years of lockdown. Almost a fifth, or 19%, did not choose any of the candidates.
Lapid, for his part, suffers from skepticism on the left. He wins 61% of self-proclaimed center-left voters in a direct election scenario, compared to Netanyahu’s 8%, but 31% of that group did not nominate either candidate.
The poll also asked Israelis what they think of Friday’s ceasefire. A plurality of 47% said they opposed the deal, while 35% supported it. The ceasefire has been criticized by many on the right for stopping Operation Guardian of the Walls before the Hamas regime in Gaza was toppled.
Among the self-proclaimed right, opposition to the ceasefire was 58% to 28% supportive, while in the center-left 49% were in favor and 30% against.
When asked who “won” the conflict, 50% said neither, 28%, Israel, 16%, Hamas and 2%, both sides. Two-thirds of Israelis, or 67%, said they expected another round of fighting with Hamas in the next three years or less. Only 9% said they thought there wouldn’t be another conflict in the next three years.