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Opinion polling in Israel shows that former defence and economy minister Naftali Bennett's conservative zionist Yamina Party is on course to be the kingmaker in a divided Knesset following the 23 March general election.
- At present neither PM Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party and its allies, nor the centrist Yesh Atid and its allies would garner the requisite 61 seats to hold a majority in the Knesset.
- Maagar Mohot poll: Seat Projection - Likud: 31 (=), Yesh Atid: 18 (+1), New Hope: 11 (-3), Yamina: 10 (-2), Joint List: 10 (-1), Shas: 8 (=), United Torah Judaism: 7 (-1), Yisrael Beiteinu: 6 (-1), Labor: 6 (+2), Blue & White: 5 (+1), Meeretz: 4 (=), Religious Zionist Party 4 (+4). +/- vs. 01/02/21. Fieldwork: 08/02/21. Sample Size: 500. Those parties in bold supportive of Netanyahu Likud-led gov't, those italicised supportive of Yair Lapid Yesh Atid-led gov't.
- As can be seen from the above poll, with the Arab-interest Joint List not backing either a Netanyahu or Lapid gov't, Yamina's support will be crucial to getting either bloc to the 61-seat threshold.
- Netanyahu faces an additional challenge in the form of his newly-resumed corruption trial. Yesterday he entered an official plea of not guilty to charges of deception, breach of trust, and receiving bribes.
- Multiple appearances at the trial could complicate the long-serving PM's attempt to win another term in office. Adding to the uncertainty is the COVID-19 pandemic. Israel has one of the highest death rates per capita worldwide from COVID-19 but has been the most rapid nation on earth in vaccinating the population. It remains to be seen whether the boost from the latter outweighs the damage done by the former in voters' minds.