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'PM not concerned about Olmert comeback'
By GIL HOFFMAN AND LAHAV HARKOV
16/07/2012
Kadima MKs say ‘Post’ poll proves Center must unite; Netanyahu associates say "Olmert is not on his mind at all."
 
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.

A Netanyahu 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 all.”

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.

Nevertheless, Kadima MKs said the poll proved it is important for Kadima and Yesh Atid to run together.

“Centrist voters are looking for a party,” MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) said.

“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.”

Shai suggested 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.
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