Kadima may owe its continued political existence to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel plans for early elections and form a national unity government, according to a Smith Research poll published over the weekend.

The poll was conducted for the business newspaper Globes last Monday and Tuesday, the day before and after the night that Netanyahu scrapped the election and signed a 2 a.m. deal with opposition leader Shaul Mofaz.

It found that support for Kadima, which won 28 mandates in the 2009 election, had dropped from 13 seats to only nine since the last poll Smith took two weeks earlier – which was published in The Jerusalem Post on April 27, the day that talk of an early election began.

The Globes poll also found for the first time that Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Independence Party would cross the electoral threshold, winning four seats, and that an as-yet unformed party led by former Shas leader Aryeh Deri would win three. Neither party won any mandates in the poll published by the Post.

Both polls predicted that the Likud would receive 31 seats, up from its current 27, and win the election by a landslide.

The new poll gave Labor 17 seats, Yisrael Beytenu 13, Yesh Atid 11, Shas seven, United Torah Judaism five, Meretz four, and the National Union and Habayit Hayehudi three each. The three Arab parties together would win 10 mandates.

The Post poll predicted 15 seats for Labor and Yisrael Beytenu, Yesh Atid 11, Shas eight, United Torah Judaism six, National Union four, and Habayit Hayehudi and Meretz three. The three Arab parties together would win 11 mandates.

Mofaz attended his first cabinet meeting since joining the government Sunday. Netanyahu welcomed him warmly and had him sit to his immediate right, temporarily displacing Vice Premier Silvan Shalom for one week.

On Monday, Mofaz will convene the Kadima faction for the first time since it entered the coalition. Rebel Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz, who was abroad when the party joined the coalition, is expected to tell her faction colleagues that she will not respect coalition discipline.

In order to prevent rebel MKs such as Zuaretz from leaving Kadima, Mofaz sent his close ally, new MK Yuval Zellner, to propose a bill that would make it harder to split the party.

Zellner’s bill would repeal legislation that lowered the minimum number of MKs needed for splitting a large party to seven. The bill would restore the previous law that required one-third of a faction for a split, regardless of the party’s size.

Kadima officials expressed confidence that Zellner’s bill would pass by next week.

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