Easy Netanyahu win predicted in first poll since Israel election set

Netanyahu announced the early election on Monday


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will easily win a snap election set for April 9, according to an opinion poll on Tuesday, the first to be published since the ballot was announced.

Netanyahu announced the early election on Monday, appealing directly to voters for a fresh political mandate that could help him weather possible charges in corruption investigations. An election had not been due until November 2019.

The survey, published in Israel’s Maariv newspaper, showed Netanyahu’s Likud party winning 30 of parliament’s 120 seats, the same number it took in the last election in 2015, and a governing majority for a Likud-led right-wing coalition bloc.

The closest challenger, the poll said, was a hypothetical party led by former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz, who has been widely touted as a potential center-left candidate.

Gantz has not publicly declared a political affiliation or any intention to run. The center-left Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid came in third in the survey, with 12 seats compared with 11 in the current parliament.

Netanyahu is enmeshed in three graft cases and denies any wrongdoing. He is awaiting a decision by Israel’s attorney-general on whether to accept police recommendations to bring criminal charges against him.

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