According to a Channel 12 poll published on this week, “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would get 28 seats, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 18, Gideon Saar’s New Hope 13, and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina 11.
While Likud continues to lead, its center-right voter base overlaps with the New Hope and Yamina parties.
New Hope leader and former Likud MK Saar has positioned himself as a right-wing and centrist alternative to Netanyahu.
“New Hope and Gideon Saar will unequivocally, indisputably, incontrovertibly, unquestioningly, not – I repeat not - sit in a Netanyahu-led government,” a New Hope party source told Ynet.
“There will be no need for further elections because Gideon Saar - and only Gideon Saar - stands able to form a coalition which will return Israel’s economic, political, and social stability,” the source added.
By ruling out sitting in a government with Netanyahu, Saar could block the Likud from forming a government.
The question is if Lapid and Saar could cobble together a coalition without Likud but instead with some combination that could include Yamina, Labor, Meretz, Blue and White, and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu.
Saar, a long-time Likud party member who served as an MK in the party from 2003 to 2014 and has served as education minister and interior minister, quit to form his own party for the upcoming election. He failed in a primary challenge against Netanyahu in Likud in 2019.
There is also speculation that Bennett might side with the anti-Netanyahu bloc along with Saar and other Left-wing parties, but New Hope doubts this.
“While Naftali Bennett and Yamina continue to bemoan the government’s obvious failings, they remain on hand and at Netanyahu’s beck and call to keep him in office and deny the Israeli people the change and responsible leadership we so desperately need.”
The party insider added that a vote for Bennett would only make a government led by Netanyahu, including his allies Mansour Abbas from the United Arab List and Itamar Ben-Gvir from the extreme-right Otzma Yehudit, more likely.
“The choice in this election is very clear. Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir, and Mansour Abbas - facilitated by Bennett. Or a stable coalition led by Gideon Saar who will be prime minister for all ‘Israelis’.”
Saar has also criticized Netanyahu’s coronavirus policy, which has depended on extensive lockdowns. Saar’s alternative plan called for testing across the country, which would allow for targeted, localized lockdowns and a quicker opening up of the rest of the country.