Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Photo: Dave Bender

Israel’s embattled center-left Zionist Union party would double its number of Knesset seats in the next election if former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz was to head the party, a new poll revealed this weekend.

The Zionist Union (an alliance comprised of the Labor and Hatnuah parties) has been collapsing in the polls under the leadership of Avi Gabbay.

Previous leader Isaac Herzog lost the March 2015 Knesset elections to Prime Minister and Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu despite pre-voting polls that showed a strong chance of a victory.

The latest poll — conducted by Israeli news site Walla — shows that if Gantz was in charge, the Zionist Union would win 24 Knesset seats, only four less than Netanyahu’s Likud, which would take 28.

Centrist party Yesh Atid, which had previously been Netanyahu’s closest rival, would drop to 15 seats. Walla reported that, according to the survey results, Gantz’s votes would largely come from current Yesh Atid and Kulanu supporters.

Under Gabbay, the Zionist Union would win only 11 seats, becoming the fifth-largest party in the Knesset.

Gantz served as chief of staff during the 2014 Gaza war and is widely respected for his conduct. However, he cannot enter politics until 2019, as under Israeli law ex-military officials must observe a “cooling-off period” of several years after their service ends.

According to Walla, it remains unclear whether Gantz will indeed join the Zionist Union, as he is being courted by numerous other parties, including Likud.


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