Note #1: Whenever I post an article from Haaretz, as I do below, I urge you to take up a subscription. Haaretz is the NY Times of Israel with a liberal editorial policy and journalists you can trust.

Note #2: This piece is for Israel political watchers. Bibi’s announcement of new elections scheduled for April 9, 2019 has forced political parties and individuals such as former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to get prepared for primary campaigns and new alignments.

Note #3: Why did Bibi call elections early (they were scheduled for November, 2019)? Why not wait? There are four reasons:

  1. Attorney General Mandelblit’s investigation of Netanyahu on bribery and fraud charges would be delayed to avoid the AG being accused of some “dark state” effort to sway the election against Bibi. Bibi’s announcement of new elections now delays Mandelblit’s indictments to be dealt with after a new government is to be formed, assuming Netanyahu as Prime Minister;
  2. The opposition is in disarray and without a clear leader. Benny Gantz is the most popular Israeli after Bibi, and announcing elections now makes it more difficult for Gantz to organize his own political party and campaign;
  3. Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan (“The Deal of the Century”) would likely cause problems for Bibi in his coalition and fracture his government giving Naftali Bennett’s Bayit HaYehudi party an advantage. Announcing elections now necessarily delays Trump’s announcement of a Middle East Peace deal until a new government is formed, again assuming Netanyahu becomes Prime Minister;
  4. The Economy has been good, but dark clouds are forming internationally that may affect Israel’s economy and present Bibi with problems.

Here is the article from Haaretz:

Former IDF chief Benny Gantz – who is reportedly still weighing his options – could potentially sway the vote, according to the polls, but Likud would still stay in the lead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to receive the most votes in Israel’s upcoming election, according to polls published by three main television stations on Tuesday.

The results came a day after the government announced the election will be held early, on April 9. Similar results in April would most likely ensure Netanyahu another term as prime minister.

The News Company, Channel 10 News and public broadcaster Kan all put Likud at anywhere between 27 and 31 out of 120 Knesset seats, compared to the 30 seats it currently holds.

According to the News Company poll, however, 52 percent of Israelis do not want to see Netanyahu carry on to another term. Only 37 percent of respondents to the Kan poll said Netanyahu is the best candidate for prime minister.

Former army chief Benny Gantz, who is reportedly still weighing his options, could potentially sway the vote, according to the polls, but Likud would still stay in the lead.

If Gantz headed a new party, he would win over 16 seats, according to the News Company poll. The Channel 10 poll set the amount at 15, while Kan projected 10 seats.

The News Company poll put a Gantz-Zionist Union joint list at 25 seats. If Gantz would join forces with Yair Lapid‘s Yesh Atid, however, the two would receive 26 seats, according to the Channel 10 poll, which may put them at close competition with Likud.

Yesh Atid sans Gantz would get between 11 and 13 seats. The party currently holds 11 Knesset seats. Opposition party Zionist Union, currently at 24 seats, crashed in the polls to only nine to 11 seats.

Polls predicted that the Joint Arab List, comprising of several Arab-majority parties, would largely maintain its 13-seat Knesset presence, with 12 to 13 seats.

Among coalition parties, right-wing Habayit Hayehudi, headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, was predicted to receive nine to 12 seats, up from its current eight. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon‘s Kulanu is down from its current 10 seats to five to seven. Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman‘s Yisrael Beiteinu, which quit the coalition but not the Knesset and still holds five seats, would win anything between four and seven seats.

Ultra-Orthodox party Shas is predicted to lose several of its seven seats, with polls putting it at four to six seats. United Torah Judaism is predicted to gain a seat, bringing it from six to seven.

Orli Levi-Abekasis, who was elected into the Knesset on a Yisrael Beiteinu ticket but resigned from Lieberman’s party and established an independent one, Gesher, is predicted to get four to six seats.

Left-wing opposition party Meretz, which currently holds five seats, is expected to regain some of its power, with polls predicting five to seven seats.

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