May 22, 2022

Israeli politics: What happens if Israel goes to elections?

If Israel were to go to elections now, Meretz would be the to carry and pay the heaviest price — not passing the election threshold, a new poll by 103fm shows. 

What if Israel headed to elections now?

Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi’s announcement that she is leaving Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s coalition on Thursday brought to the forefront what has been on the backhand of the Israeli political discussion board for months now: new election rounds. 

Other than Meretz not passing the threshold though, the poll shows no significant change from the last round of elections: no one party leader holds the majority seats needed to form a coalition government. 

The poll itself 

 MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi attends Meretz Party meeting in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 21, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi attends Meretz Party meeting in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 21, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

If Israelis were to hit the ballot box now, the Netanyahu block would hold exactly 60 seats — 36 from Likud, nine from the Religious Zionist Party, eight from Shas and seven from United Torah Judaism. 

On the other side of the political map stands a bloc with 53 seats: Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party leads in next with 18 seats — lower than previous polls — Labor and Blue and White both with eight, Yamina with six, Yisrael Beytenu with five and New Hope and Ra’am with four each. 

The Joint List, which has never joined a bloc on principle, would carry seven seats. 

Meretz, which took a hard hit this week after Zoabi’s announcement, would not pass the electoral threshold, which stands at 2.5%. 

Rough week ahead

The coalition is set for a tense week where it will try to balance the ship — or Titanic, as it was called by opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu — that is the governing coalition and prevent it from falling apart. 

A vote is set to be brought to vote today that would give released IDF soldiers stipends of two-thirds of their tuition. With Netanyahu’s backing, faction chairman Yariv Levin decided to oppose every significant bill brought by the coalition.

A group of IDF officers met with Levin on Wednesday and pleaded with him to support the bill. Levin said Likud supported giving scholarships of 100% of tuition. But changing the bill would require delaying it significantly after the Treasury budgeted NIS 100 million for the current version of the bill. 

Without the Likud, the coalition would need the support of Ra’am (United Arab List) MKs to pass the bill. But Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim announced that his faction could not back a bill that enables Jewish students to get scholarships that Arabs would not receive. Soldiers — particularly lone soldiers — are concerned about the fate of the bill. 

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report. 

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