Israel ‘right strong, opposition divided’

Israel ‘right strong, opposition divided’

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israel ‘right strong, opposition divided’

Israeli PM Netanyahu’s rightwing bloc is ahead of its rivals in polls. REUTERS photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing bloc remains far ahead of its rivals ahead of Jan. 22 snap elections, with the opposition increasingly divided, a poll said yesterday.

The joint list of Netanyahu’s Likud party and the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to win 39 seats, according to the poll published by the left-leaning Haaretz daily. Last week, a poll published in Maariv gave the list 38 mandates in the 120-seat Knesset, Parliament.

Rightwing parties allied with Netanyahu are also expected to do well, with the Haaretz poll finding the ultra-Orthodox Shas likely to win 12 seats, Jewish Home taking 11 and United Torah Judaism securing six seats. Overall, the rightwing bloc was seen winning a large majority of around 68 seats.

By comparison, the center and leftist bloc appears fragmented and weak, with its strongest representative, the Labor party led by Shelly Yachimovich, likely to win 17 seats, the Haaretz poll found. HaTnuah, a new party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, is expected to win nine seats, while Yesh Atid, headed by former journalist Yair Lapid, is projected to win six. And the center-right Kadima party, which is currently the largest faction in parliament with 28 mandates, is expected to be practically wiped out, taking just two seats. The leftwing Meretz party would likely win three seats.

Analysts said Livni’s decision to return to politics had hobbled the opposition, with her new centrist party taking seats exclusively from the center-left, rather than the rightwing bloc.

Poll: Next PM Netanyahu

The poll also showed Israelis have no doubt about who their next premier will be, with 81 percent saying they expected Netanyahu to form the next government.

A separate poll conducted on behalf of Haifa University showed around half of Israel’s 1.4 million Arab citizens do not plan to vote in next month’s elections.

The poll found that 82 percent of Arab Israelis have little or no faith in the government.