Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not concerned that a political comeback by
former prime minister Ehud Olmert could result in a serious challenge to him in
the next election, sources close to Netanyahu said Sunday.
adviser showed him the poll published in Friday’s The Jerusalem Post, which
found that if elections were held today, a party led by Olmert and Yesh Atid
party leader Yair Lapid would win 30 seats, compared to 27 for Netanyahu’s
Likud. The poll found that if Olmert returned to the helm of Kadima, the party
would win 17 seats, compared to just eight under its current head, Shaul Mofaz.
Kadima under Olmert would take three mandates away from Labor, one from Yisrael
Beytenu and five from the newly formed Yesh Atid.
“Olmert is not a
problem,” a Netanyahu associate said. “Olmert is not on his mind at
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) noted that even if Olmert
and Lapid join forces, the center-Left bloc would only number 58 MKs, not enough
to block the center-Right from forming the next government.
Kadima MKs said the poll proved it is important for Kadima and Yesh Atid to run
“Centrist voters are looking for a party,” MK Nachman Shai
“Olmert is, apparently, the only one who can present a
real challenge to Netanyahu. I hope for his sake that he comes out innocent, and
I will also be happy that he can build a centrist party.”
that Olmert take current Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, former party leader Tzipi
Livni and Lapid with him.
According to Kadima rebel MK Shlomo Molla, the
poll shows that “Bibi is not the king of Israel.”
“I will support anyone
who can lead Kadima to victory, and we see that Kadima is not taking off under
Mofaz,” Molla stated. “Uniting is the best option to present an alternative to
replace a failing prime minister.”
Molla said that Netanyahu missed his
opportunity to draft the haredi community, and that the public is looking to
vote for someone who cares about those who “work, serve, pay taxes and not those
who just sit.”
MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said that what is most important
is that Kadima leave the coalition as soon as possible, rather than whether it
unites with others or who its leader may be.
Lapid’s camp said that the
poll was interesting, but dismissed speculation that he would run with Olmert.