Former prime minister Ehud Olmert would fare poorly if he decides to make a political comeback and run in the January 22 election, a Smith Research poll conducted for The Jerusalem Post and Globes found this week.

The poll, which was conducted before the assassination of Hamas military wing chief Ahmed Jabari, found that if elections were held now, Kadima under Olmert's leadership would win only 11 seats. The poll predicted that if Olmert did not run, Kadima would fail to pass the electoral threshold, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Independence Party would win the two percent of the vote necessary to enter the Knesset.

Asked whether they would find an Olmert comeback acceptable, 63% said no, 24% said yes, and 13% declined to express an opinion. Among respondents who said they intend to vote Kadima in the election, 61% said no and just 10% said they wanted Olmert back in politics.

Among supporters of other parties, more respondents backed Olmert coming back: 14% among Likud-Beytenu backers, 28% among Laborites, and 37% among people who intend to vote for former journalist Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party.

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The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday among 500 people representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

The Center-Right would maintain the 65 MK majority it enjoys in the current Knesset if Kadima would be led in the election by its current chairman Shaul Mofaz. If Olmert replaced Mofaz, he would take two seats away from Likud-Beytenu, but the Center-Right bloc would still end up winning 64 seats.

Olmert would also take away votes from Labor, Meretz, and Yesh Atid. The Independence Party, which is expected to be strengthened if Operation Pillar of Defense goes well, would pass the threshold whether or not Olmert would run.

Following his return to Israel from an American speaking tour Wednesday, Olmert announced that he would not be holding public political consultations due to the fighting in the South. He postponed his decision about whether to make a political comeback, and Kadima suspended its election campaign, which portrayed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as trigger-happy on Iran.

The poll found that renegade former Shas MK Haim Amsalem's new Am Shalem party nearly crosses the threshold for the first time.

Likud-Beytenu would win 38 seats, up from 37 in the last Smith Research poll published in The Jerusalem Post November 2 following the merger of the two factions. Labor remained steady at 22 seats, Yesh Atid fell from 13 to 11, and Habayit Hayehudi/National Union rose from nine seats to 10 following the victory of new Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett.


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