Itongadol.- The joint Labor-Hatnua party is now neck and neck with the ruling Likud party, a new Channel 2 poll claimed.
According to the poll, if the elections were held today, the newly merged center-left party, led in rotation by Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog and Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, would take 24 Knesset seats while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu\’s Likud would take only 23.
The number is a 5 seat rise for the Likud, which is running without the Yisrael Beiteinu party this election, and now holds only 18 Knesset seats. In the current Knesset, Labor and Hatnua hold 21 seats, so the joint ticket would see the left of center bloc rise by three seats.
When asked who is better suited to serve as prime minister, Netanyahu led the poll with 36% while Herzog-Livni, who vowed to rotate the premiership should they win, received only 33%.
In third place, Naftali Bennett\’s rightwing Bayit Yehudi party, which saw their numbers rise from 12 in the current government to an estimated 15 in the coming election.
They were closely followed by former Likud minister and political wunderkind Moshe Kachlon\’s newly minted Kulanu party, which the poll said was expected to take no less than 9 Knesset seats.
According to the poll they were tied with the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party Shas, which also was expected to take 9 Knesset seats, a 2 seat drop for the party, currently in opposition with 11 Knesset members.
Though they entered the previous government as lions, Yair Lapid\’s Yesh Atid exits it like a wounded lamb, dropping from their current 19 Knesset seats down to 8.
They are tied at 8 Knesset seats with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman\’s Yisrael Beiteinu party – a drop from 13 for the secular rightwing party – and with the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism also taking 8.
Leftist Meretz is expected to take 5 Knesset seats, a drop from their current six. A joint Arab list was slated to take 11 Knesset seats together.
The poll had a 4.5% margin of error from a representative sample of 500 respondents.