MK Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would easily defeat Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beytenu if an election were to take place now, according to a Panels poll taken on Wednesday for Sof Hashavua, The Jerusalem Post’s weekend sister newspaper in Hebrew.

The poll found that Yesh Atid would win 30 Knesset seats, Likud Beytenu 22, Bayit Yehudi 15, Labor 13, Shas nine, Meretz seven, United Torah Judaism six, Hadash and The Tzipi Livni Party four each, United Arab List and Strong Israel three each, and Kadima and Balad two each.

The poll had 503 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population, and a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

When asked what Netanyahu’s main consideration is in building his coalition, 59 percent of the respondents said personal issues, 24% said the good of the country, and 17% had no idea.

Netanyahu also fared poorly when respondents were asked which politicians they trusted, but not quite as badly as his new coalition partner, Tzipi Livni. Sixty-five percent said they did not trust Netanyahu and 31% said they did. When asked about Livni, 69% said they did not trust her and 27% said they did.

Lapid, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich all received favorable results on the trust question.

For Lapid, 59% said they trusted him and 36% said they did not. Bennett's numbers were almost as good: 54% said they trusted him and 36% said they did not.

With Yacimovich, 48% trusted her and 47% did not.

President Shimon Peres could initiate another election if Netanyahu fails to form a government by the March 15 deadline. The prime minister’s associates have talked about forming a coalition of 57 MKs, and then telling Bennett ahead of the deadline to either join or initiate an election the Right could lose.

Likud Beytenu will hold its first coalition negotiations with Bayit Yehudi in more than a week on Friday morning at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel. Sources in Bayit Yehudi said they would discuss the as yet unpassed 2013 state budget, how to equalize the burden of IDF service and more matters of principle.

The sources said they would try to reopen the coalition deal Netanyahu signed on Tuesday with Livni, in which she was given the Justice portfolio and authority over negotiations with the Palestinians.

“There is no reason why we cannot advance and reach an agreement on a government led by the nationalist camp,” a Likud source said.

But Bayit Yehudi’s alliance with Yesh Atid has made forming a government much more difficult. Bennett and Lapid met on Thursday with Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz to coordinate strategy.

A Bayit Yehudi source said after the meeting that he believed all three parties would end up joining the coalition.

Channel 10 reported that in closed conversations, Lapid said there was no longer a reason to join the government and for him to become foreign minister, because Livni had already been given authority over negotiations with the Palestinians.

Lapid wrote on Facebook that he would not compromise on his principles even if it meant going to the opposition.

He criticized Netanyahu, saying the prime minister could have formed a productive, civil government with minimal effort two weeks ago.

Likud Beytenu’s negotiating team met late on Thursday with UTJ and was set to meet with Shas on Friday afternoon.

A group of Likud activists wrote on Thursday that Netanyahu was sacrificing his party’s principles by seeking a coalition deal with Shas and UTJ instead of Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi. They said they would draft a petition and send it to Netanyahu.

The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, who is a power broker in the Likud, condemned the agreement with Livni.

“To let Tzipi Livni conduct these negotiations, is like saying that a serious traffic offender can be the chief of the Traffic Police,” Mesika said.

“We all still remember the folly of the [2007] Annapolis Conference. Tzipi Livni is currently the most extreme representative of the Oslo concept around, and the only one who still speaks about it, while even Meretz keeps it hidden today.”

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