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February 25, 2020 11:05 am

For the First Time, Netanyahu Pushes Past Gantz in the Polls

avatar by Israel Hayom /

Election campaign posters in Tel Aviv depict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud Party, as well as the leaders of the Blue and White Party, including Benny Gantz, second from left, Sept. 2019. Photo: Adam Shuldman/Flash90. – Were Israel’s elections to be held today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party would secure 33 Knesset seats, giving the ruling party a slight edge over challenger Blue and White, projected to win 32 seats, a Channel 13 News poll found Monday. The poll also projected a tie between the blocs headed by each party, giving each one 56 mandates.

Israel’s March 2 elections mark an unprecedented third vote within a 12-month span, but with polls showing a neck-and-neck race between Likud and Blue and White and with neither the right-wing nor the left-wing bloc seeming able to secure the 61-seat majority necessary to form a government, concerns are growing that the country’s political logjam will continue and that Israel will find itself facing a fourth vote in the fall of 2020.

According to the survey, the Joint Arab List, an alliance comprising the Arab or mostly Arab parties Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al and Hadash, will retain its position as the third-largest faction in the Knesset, with 14 seats.

The Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance was projected to win 10 seats, followed by Yisrael Beiteinu (8), Yamina, a faction comprising the New Right, National Union and Jewish Home parties (8), Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas (8) and Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism with seven seats.

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The far-right Otzma Yehudit Party failed to pass the four-seat electoral threshold of 3.25 percent of the votes.

Also on Monday, Israel’s Central Election Committee said it was mulling punitive action against anyone attempting to influence voter turnout by spreading rumors that polling stations may be unsafe due to coronavirus infection.

The issue was broached after officials in the committee expressed concerns that political elements may try to exploit public fear regarding the virus to sway the vote by making false statements to the media.

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