Last updated: 10 January, 2012

Israeli PM gets poll boost despite political shakeup

The decision of a popular Israeli anchor to enter politics is unlikely to affect the strength of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who retains popular support, several polls showed on Tuesday.

Television anchor Yair Lapid, whose father led the now-defunct centre-right Shinui party, announced this week he was leaving media to enter politics with the goal of setting up his own party.

Polls in several Israeli newspapers on Tuesday showed Lapid’s new party could command anywhere between 11-14 seats in the 120-seat parliament, or Knesset, taking support mainly from the centre-right opposition Kadima party lead by Tzipi Livni.

A poll conducted by top-selling Yediot Aharonot showed Lapid’s new party, which has not even been formed, stood to win between 11 and 14 seats, depending on who leads Kadima into elections.

The Labour party would win between 13 and 14 seats — close to what it took in the 2009 election — but Netanyahu’s Likud party would take 28 seats, easily beating its opponents and increasing its hold in the Knesset by one seat, the poll said.

It also showed that Likud could lose out if Lapid’s new party joined forces with Kadima, with the joint ticket seen taking 29 seats, leaving Netanyahu’s party with 27, Labour with 12 and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu with 14.

Haaretz, citing a poll carried out by Israel’s Channel 10, said Labour stood to win 12 seats in the Knesset, with Lapid garnering 16 seats, winning many from Kadima, which would be left with 14 seats.

Likud would remain the runaway winner, the poll said, winning 30 Knesset seats, more than it currently holds.

Maariv’s poll also put Likud on top with 27 seats to Labour’s 18, Kadima’s 15, Yisrael Beitenu’s 14 and Lapid’s 12.

The survey also found respondents preferred Netanyahu as prime minister over a variety of opposition figures including Kadima’s Livni, Lapid or potential Kadima leader and ex-defence minister Shaul Mofaz.

Elections are not expected in Israel until October 2013, but there has been a flurry of speculation about whether Netanyahu will move the vote up, in a bid to capitalise on his current popularity.

On Monday, Noam Shalit, the father of an Israeli soldier who was held captive in Gaza for over five years before being released in October, announced he planned to run for parliament as a member of the Labour party.