Merav Michaeli. Photo: Ron Kedmi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Labor party, which appeared to be facing electoral catastrophe just weeks ago, is rising sharply in the polls in a boost to new leader Merav Michaeli. A Channel 13 survey released yesterday showed the party winning eight seats in March’s general election, with Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents ekeing out a Knesset majority. It is the latest survey to show Labor, which polls over the past year had consistently showed beneath the 3.25 percent threshold required to enter the Knesset, comfortably back in the Israeli parliament. Labor’s comeback has come at the expense of The Israelis, a new centre-left party formed by the veteran Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai last month. It initially rose as high as nine seats in the polls but has now plummeted beneath the threshold, prompting speculation that it will seek a deal to run with Labor in the 23 March elections. The deadline for submitting party lists to the Central Election Committee is tomorrow. The Channel 13 poll suggested linking up with Huldai’s party and former Yesh Atid MK’s Ofer Shelah’s centre-left Tnufah party could boost Labor to 11 seats. The survey also indicated that parties opposed to Netanyahu remaining prime minister could win between 61-66 seats as against a Likud-led bloc of 44-51 seats. The survey came as Labor members voted in a primary election on Monday for the party’s Knesset slate. Former Knesset member and ex-IDF special forces commander Omer Barlev won the top slot, placing him second on the list behind Michaeli if no mergers with other parties take place. The next highest placed candidates were social activist and political commentator Emilie Moatti, the head of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism Gilad Kariv, and TV personality and lawyer Efrat Rayten.
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