Last updated: 14 December, 2012

Polls show Israeli right wing ahead for January vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing bloc was seen as retaining its strong lead over its rivals in January 22 snap elections, according to polls published on Friday.

Top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily predicted that the joint list of Netanyahu’s Likud party and the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wound win 35 of the 120 seats in parliament, compared with 37 predicted by the paper two weeks ago.

The survey of 750 people was conducted by Dahaf Polling Institute on Wednesday and Thursday.

Late Thursday Lieberman announced after charges of fraud and breach of trust were filed against him that his lawyers believed he was not obliged to resign and that he would take a decision after further legal and political consultations.

The poll, the margin of error of which was not given, showed Netanyahu allies the ultra-Orthodox Shas unchanged from the previous survey at 11 seats, Jewish Home taking 11, up from 10, and United Torah Judaism securing six, compared with five previously.

Overall, the rightwing/religious bloc was seen winning a majority, with around 65 seats.

The centre and leftist parties still trailed, although HaTnuah, a new party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, rose to 11 from nine in the previous survey.

The main opposition Labour party was unchanged at 19 seats and Yesh Atid, headed by former journalist Yair Lapid, slipped to eight from nine.

The centre-right Kadima party, currently the largest party in parliament with 28 MPs, is expected to be wiped out with no seats at all, Dahaf said, giving the centre-left a likely total of 42 members in the next parliament.

A poll in the rival Maariv daily by Maagar Mohot Polling Institute had better news for the Netanyahu-Lieberman alliance, although there was no indication when the survey of 501 people was conducted.

It gave them 38 seats, compared with 37 previously, and put the religious-right bloc at a combined 69.

The poll, with a margin of error of 4.5 percent, estimated the combined strength of the centre-left at 41.