update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu, right-wing bloc gain in polls following Sa’ar’s split with Gantz

Former Likud member Gideon Sa'ar and three other lawmakers parted ways with Benny Gantz's National Union. Sa'ar sought to return to the right-wing camp while Gantz stuck to left-wing principles.

Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Gideon Sa'ar at a faction meeting in Jerusalem, March 2, 2009. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Gideon Sa'ar at a faction meeting in Jerusalem, March 2, 2009. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

The decision by Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Gideon Sa’ar to break up his partnership with Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party could be the key to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remaining in power, according to a survey published by Channel 14 on Wednesday.

If Israel were to hold general elections today, Netanyahu’s existing coalition of right-wing and religious parties would garner 56 mandates, five short of a 61-seat majority in parliament.

Yet with Sa’ar’s expected six Knesset seats, the bloc could potentially reach 62 mandates, according to the Channel 14 poll.

Meanwhile, with Sa’ar gone, Gantz’s left-wing National Unity Party is projected to win 22 seats, down four from a Feb. 13 survey.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu hold steady over the prior poll and remain at 12 and 9 seats respectively, while the far-left Meretz Party gains one mandate, from four to five.

The various Arab parties, which Channel 14 counts separately though other media outlets include within the opposition bloc, earn 10 seats.

Two factions failed to get enough support to reach the 3.25% minimum threshold to enter the Knesset: the Arab Balad Party and the Labor Party, which ruled Israel for decades.

Right-wing bloc:

Likud: 25
Shas: 10
Otzma Yehudit: 9
United Torah Judaism: 8
Religious Zionism: 4

Total: 56 mandates

Left-wing bloc:

National Unity: 22
Yesh Atid: 12
Israel Beiteinu: 9
Meretz: 5

Total: 48 mandates

Five months after the National Unity Party joined the Netanyahu-led wartime government, Sa’ar announced on Tuesday that he and three other lawmakers were parting ways with Gantz. Tensions between the two had reportedly soared in recent months, as Sa’ar sought to return to the right-wing camp while Gantz stuck to his left-wing principles.

“I respect my friends, the representatives of National Unity in the War Cabinet, but unfortunately, they do not express in it the voice, positions and emphases I would bring there,” Sa’ar stated at a press conference in Tel Aviv, in reference to Gantz and fellow National Unity member Gadi Eizenkot.

On Wednesday, the Knesset House Committee green-lit Sa’ar’s request to split off and re-establish his New Hope Party. The party vowed to “clearly express the national and statesmanlike worldview” and demanded it be given a spot on the War Cabinet.

Sources in Netanyahu’s Likud Party dispelled rumors that Sa’ar’s announcement had been coordinated with the premier and noted that no decision had been made regarding his demands. However, the sources said they believe Netanyahu’s response will be positive since Sa’ar now provides an insurance certificate for the government during the war.

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls by some members of the opposition for him to resign and for elections to be held. The next national vote is scheduled to be held no later than Oct. 27, 2026.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, who joined the New Hope Party alongside Sa’ar, stated on Wednesday: “We will not join Likud, and we will not go with Netanyahu. We want to bring out the voice of … the moderate right.”

Sa’ar, for his part, said that although “there is no person in Israeli politics who has fought Benjamin Netanyahu more than I have,” Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror massacre of 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev has led to a change in the “national agenda and focus.”

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates