Last updated: 26 September, 2011

Israel’s Labour set to reduce Kadima to third party

If an election were held today, Israel’s Labour would become the second largest party in parliament, gaining seats at the expense of the centrist Kadima faction, a poll showed on Monday.

Results from a Haaretz-Dialog poll taken on Sunday show that Labour, which last week appointed former journalist Shelly Yachimovich as its new leader, would take 22 of the 120 seats in parliament, compared with the eight it currently holds.

Kadima would secure only 18, down from 22 in an earlier Haaretz-Dialog poll taken on September 14. The party currently holds 28 seats.

The survey was conducted just days after Yachimovich took the helm of the ailing Labour party, which had been leaderless since former chairman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak jumped ship in January to set up the centrist Independence party.

There was little change in the standing of the right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the results showing it would win 26 seats, compared with its current 27. The earlier poll showed it taking 25.

But the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman showed an increase of three seats since the previous survey, with 18 seats — putting it on a level with Kadima.

The earlier poll showed the party taking 15 seats, identical to the number it currently holds.

The poll was carried out among a representative sample of 495 and had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

The survey also showed a 41 percent approval rating for Netanyahu following his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday, in which he set out Israel’s opposition to an attempt by the Palestinians to secure UN membership for their state.

It was a significant jump since the end of July, when an earlier poll taken at the height of the mass protests against the high cost of living, gave him a 32 percent approval rating.

Haaretz said Sunday’s poll demonstrated “a major change in the makeup of the Knesset” which would now be dominated by four medium-to-large parties, rather than by two large factions as has been the case in recent decades.