A new poll shows that Israelis are increasingly blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the ongoing political paralysis likely to thrust the country into a third election.
According to a report in The Times of Israel, the poll by Channel 13 news suggests that Blue and White is profiting from developments, increasing its lead over Likud.
The poll results gave Blue and White 37 seats, compared to Likud's 33.
Overall, the right-wing-Haredi bloc of parties who have backed Netanyahu drops by three seats, from the current 55 Knesset seats to 52. A big factor is the collapse "under the 3.25 percent electoral threshold of the far-right alliance of Jewish Home and National Union", The Times of Israel reported.
Meanwhile, if Likud dropped Netanyahu in favour of challenger MK Gideon Sa'ar, the party would drop to just 29 seats, six seats behind Blue and White at 35 – "but the broader right-wing bloc on which Likud has relied grows to 55".
This is because votes lost by Likud would "help push the Jewish Home-National Union list over the threshold and up to five seats", while Shas and the New Right "also see a slight increase".
Channel 13's poll, if Likud is led by Netanyahu, shows: Blue and White 37, Likud 33, Joint List 13, Yisrael Beiteinu 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Shas 6, New Right 6, Labor-Gesher 5, Democratic Camp 5, Jewish Home-National Union 0.
But if Likud is led by Sa'ar, the results are: Blue and White 35, Likud 29, Joint List 13, Yisrael Beiteinu 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Shas 7, New Right 7, Jewish Home-National Union 5, Democratic Camp 5, Labor-Gesher 4.
The poll also asked respondents "who they blamed for the third consecutive election in 11 months, should it happen", with 41 percent singling out Netanyahu, 26 percent choosing Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor Lieberman, with only 5 percent blaming Blue and White chair Benny Gantz.
According to The Times of Israel, "if the latest survey is any indication — other recent polls have showed similar results — Sa'ar has a difficult primary campaign ahead of him in which he may try to convince Likud's rank and file that a smaller Likud within a larger right-wing bloc will potentially help bring the party closer to victory and end an almost year-long political deadlock".