Israeli Election Roundup: Poll gives center hope; unity fails; Bennett opposed to haredi draft

Israeli elections are scheduled for Jan. 22. Here’s the latest news from the campaign trail. 

A new Times of Israel poll, which claims to be the most accurate poll published yet, says 31 percent of likely voters are undecided, and will probably break for center-left parties like Labor and Yesh Atid. If correct, this could mean a closer election than previously expected, though the poll predicts that Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu list will still be the largest party, and that right-wing parties will outnumber center-left parties in the next Knesset.

The Times of Israel touted the poll as more accurate than others because it surveyed likely voters as opposed to eligible voters, and called cellphones for some of its data.

A potential alliance between the three largest center-left parties — Labor, Hatnua and Yesh Atid — appears to have foundered. Leaders of the three parties met late Sunday night, but soon after the meeting Labor head Shelly Yachimovich and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid accused Hatnua head Tzipi Livni of “political spin.” This is but the latest in a string of failed unity attempts between the parties.

Naftali Bennett, head of the hawkish Jewish Home party, said in an interview on a haredi Orthodox radio show that he would oppose forcing haredi yeshiva students to join the army as part of Israel’s universal conscription. The issue of haredi army service has been a heated one in this campaign, with most secular parties favoring haredi conscription and almost all religious parties opposing it. 

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