The next general election will be significantly impacted by former IDF chief Benny Gantz’s decision on his political future, a survey taken by pollsters Mina Tzemach and Mano Geva for the Yediot Aharonot newspaper revealed Wednesday.

The poll found that if elections were held now, with current Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay at the head of the party, the Likud would win 33 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 18, and the Zionist Union with 15.

But if the Zionist Union would replace Gabbay with Gantz, the party would win the same 24 seats it won in the March 2015 election under the leadership of new Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. In that scenario, the Likud would win 30 seats, as it did in 2015, and Yesh Atid 14, three more than it won in that race.

If Gantz led his own party, the poll found that it would win 14 seats. Likud would win 29, Yesh Atid 15 and the Zionist Union only 10. This week, the last date possible for initiating an early election before Gantz’s post-IDF cooling-off period ends passed, ending hope among political rivals that he would not be able to run.

Gantz is not expected to announce whether he will form a new party or run with an existing one until the next election is called, which cannot happen before October, when the Knesset returns from its extended summer and holiday recess, which begins July 19.

Gabbay downplayed the poll in an Israel Radio interview from Italy, where he asked  Pope Francis Tuesday for his assistance in bringing home the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.  

“I will head Labor and the Zionist Union in the next election, period,” Gabbay told Israel Radio Wednesday morning. “I don’t act based on polls. Polls are nice, but I am on the streets talking to people, and I know what’s really going on.”

The poll also found that a majority of the public, 51%, and 70% of Yesh Atid voters believe the party’s leader, Yair Lapid, made the right decision to support the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) draft bill.

Asked whether the haredim should be obligated to serve, 71% said yes, 24% no, and 5% said they did not know.

The poll of 532 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population, was taken Monday and had an error margin of 4.3%.

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