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Final polls show Zionist Camp with biggest lead yet

Herzog and Livni may have the upper hand over Netanyahu, but even if they win the election, they won’t have an easy time putting together a coalition.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The latest election polls published Friday show Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s Zionist Camp leading Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party by four seats.

According to Project61, an independent polling project that aggregates and attempts to correct biases in the major pre-election surveys, the Zionist Camp is currently polling at 24 seats as opposed to Netanyahu’s 20 seats. According to Israeli election law, polls are not allowed to be published after Friday.

Project 61 poll, March 13, 2015 (https://twitter.com/Project_61_IL, https://www.facebook.com/Project.61.IL)

Project 61 poll, March 13, 2015 (https://twitter.com/Project_61_IL, https://www.facebook.com/Project.61.IL)

While the polls certainly reveal a drop in support for Netanyahu over the past few days (the prime minister himself said just earlier this week that there is a chance he will be unseated by Herzog and Tzipi Livni), nothing is certain. And although Herzog has never been stronger throughout the election season, it is anything but clear that he can get Moshe Kahlon’s (formerly of the Likud) Kulanu party to join him, not to mention have the ultra-Orthodox parties sit in the same coalition with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, who in the last government angered the ultra-Orthodox by pushing to draft them into the army.

Currently, a possible center-Left coalition consisting of the Zionist Camp, Yesh Atid, Meretz and Kulanu would garner 48 out of the necessary 61 seats according to the polls. As of Friday night, a potential right-wing bloc, made up of the Likud, Jewish Home, Israel Beitenu and Kulanu was polling at a total of 46 seats.

The two ultra-Orthodox parties — Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) — who are both expected to ultimately be willing to sit in either a right-wing or center-left government, together poll at 15 seats. This could push either of the two potential blocs over the 61-seat threshold. Meanwhile, the Joint Arab List is currently polling at 14 seats.

After the elections, the president will ask all of the parties in the new Knesset to recommend who should be given an opportunity to form the governing coalition. Taking those recommendations into consideration, the president will then select the head of one party, who has 42 days to build a coalition of at least 61 MKs. The president is not compelled to choose the largest party; he can also choose the MK who he believes has the best chances at forming a viable coalition. For example, after the 2009 elections, Tzipi Livni headed the largest party but she was unable to form a coalition so Netanyahu was given an opportunity — and succeeded.

It is likely that the Joint List, led by Ayman Odeh, will recommend Herzog as prime minister. The Zionist Camp, however, supported the disqualification of one of the Joint List’s candidates, raising the possibility that Arab parties will find a way to recommend neither of the major candidates.

And while the Zionist Camp is likely cautiously celebrating its new gains, things are not as rosy in its rivals’ headquarters. According to Haaretz‘s Jonathan Lis, Likud senior officials are labeling the election campaign “a failure” following the polls, and are placing the blame on Netanyahu for the party’s poor showing.

“The Zionist Union will be larger than Likud after the election. This, it seems, is already a fact. The question is what the gap between the two will be. Even if we manage to form the next government, this campaign was a colossal failure. Netanyahu is primarily responsible,” said a senior Likud member.

However, regardless of who wins the election, the Israeli public doesn’t expect much to change vis-a-vis peace talks with the Palestinians. As my colleague Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man wrote earlier this week, a recent poll found that nearly 60 percent of Israelis believe there will be no progress on the peace process regardless of who forms the next government, “because there is no solution to the disputes between the two sides.”

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    1. Pedro X

      All is cool. If the Israelis elect enough Zionist Camp politicians, Israel will have another Labor government with a number of centrist parties. Zionist Camp candidate for Defense Minister Amos Yadlin believes in Israel staying in the Jordan Valley and keeping most of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. He will keep Jerusalem United. Herzog and Livni can give and rename Abu Dis as the Palestinian Jerusalem.

      And did I mention that Herzog and Livni are very good at talking so they can keep peace talks going again for another 10 years.

      And of course if war breaks out with Hezbollah or Hamas, the Zionist Camp will show the world how they are not as cautious as Netanyahu. Amos Yadlin was the first pilot to drop his payload on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and likely will be willing to do so on Lebanon, Gaza or Iran’s nuclear assets.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      Amos Oz should be read by everyone with access to this and especially the ones who see “talking” for another ten years under cover of pseudo-liberalism and fake leftism as good tactics and strategy–what Oz calls “all kinds of wise guys here.”

      Amos Oz has a recipe for saving Israel
      To prevent the emergence of a dictatorship of fanatic Jews, or of an Arab state in Israel, we must stop trying to ‘manage the conflict’ and create two states here. Now. Excerpts from two recent talks by Oz.


      “We’ll begin with the most important thing, with a matter of life-and-death for the State of Israel: If there will not be two states here, and fast, there will be one state here. If there will be one state here, it will be an Arab state, from the sea to the Jordan River…

      If there are not two states here, and fast, it’s very possible that, in order to avert the emergence of an Arab state from the sea to the Jordan River, a dictatorship of fanatic Jews will rule here temporarily, a dictatorship with racist features, a dictatorship that will suppress both the Arabs and its own Jewish opponents with an iron hand.

      Such a dictatorship will be short-lived. Hardly any dictatorship of a minority that suppresses the majority has survived long in the modern era. At the end of that road, too, an Arab state, from the sea to the Jordan River awaits us, and before that perhaps also an international boycott, or a bloodbath, or both….

      There are all kinds of wise guys here who tell us that there is no solution to the conflict, and who therefore preach the idea of “managing” it…

      We must never forget that at least twice in our history we found ourselves embroiled in a war against almost the whole world, and on those previous occasions it ended very badly.

      I envision a time that is not far off when workers in Amsterdam, in Dublin or in Madrid will refuse to service El Al planes. Customers will boycott Israeli products, leaving them on the shelves. Investors and tourists will shun Israel. The Israeli economy will collapse. We are already at least halfway there…

      The same fearmongers who frightened us with the Soviet army at the gates of Kfar Sava are now scaring us again…”

      Reply to Comment
    3. Weiss

      “After the elections, the president will ask all of the parties in the new Knesset to recommend who should be given an opportunity to form the governing coalition. Taking those recommendations into consideration, the president will then select the head of one party…”

      So this is the Democracy Israelis are so proud of?

      Where exactly do the citizens of Israel have an actual say in who the “selected” President “chooses” ???

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        That’s how most Parliamentary Democracies work, Weiss.

        The election determines who gets a seat in the parliament (in this case is the Knesset), and that’s all the election “really” does.

        It’s the head of state who then “commissions” a Prime Minister who then forms a government, and that government survives only for as long as it can survive a vote of no-confidence in the parliament.

        Lose a no-confidence vote and that “commission” has to be handed back (with either a recommendation that Someone Else be invited to form a government or – more often – that a new election be called).

        That’s how the Westminster System works.

        There’s nothing sinister or unusual about it, and the only reason why Israel’s version is so messy is because of the sheer number of parties involved.

        In most other countries there are only three or four parties who get any representation in the parliament, and so determining on election night who will form the next government is usually pretty straight-forward.

        Reply to Comment