(JNS.org) A recent poll conducted by the Jerusalem Post and Globes shows that the controversial new Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s former aide Naftali Bennett rose by a projected three Knesset seats, from 11 to 14, in just one week.
The rise in the polls for Bennett’s party comes amid criticism from Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians over his comments suggesting that as a soldier, he would refuse orders to evacuate a Jewish community.
A recent New York Times feature on Bennett highlighted his ability to capture the politically underrepresented, yet fast growing, religious Zionist segment of Israeli society through his controversial annexation plan of Area C of Judea and Samaria and appeal to the values of the modern Orthodox community.
“Whatever issue you raise that is a major issue for the state of Israel, the national-religious community has a view that is basically driving the discourse. Bennett is representing it in politics,” Yedidia Z. Stern, vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, in the same poll, Netanyahu’s joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu party fell to 34 projected Knesset seats from 36 a week ago and 39 two weeks ago.
In addition to the gains of Bayit Yehudi, the poll also predicts the reemergence of the once-dominant Labor party, which would see its share of seats rise from eight in the current Knesset to 18, while Shas will increase by one seat to 11. Former TV personality Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Tzipi Livni’s new centrist party Hatnuah would each have 10 seats, according to the poll.
The Israeli elections are scheduled for Jan. 22.