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The Likud will win an unexpectedly close race but the right-wing bloc will easily defeat the Left, according to a consensus of polls taken ahead of Friday, the last date polls can be published before Tuesday's election.
A Jerusalem Post/Smith Research poll found that the Right would win some 65 seats, led by the Likud's 26 and Israel Beiteinu's 17-18. The Left would win some 55 seats, led by Kadima's 23 and Labor's 14.
Likud's three-seat lead over Kadima is down from six mandates when the last Smith poll was published January 2. While Kadima has remained stagnant since then, Likud has lost three seats to Avigdor Lieberman's resurgent Israel Beiteinu.
Other polls showed similar trends. A Panels poll taken for Channel 2's Web site found that the gap between Likud and Kadima had fallen to only one seat, and a Dialogue poll taken for Ha'aretz put the gap at two. The largest gap between Likud and Kadima is six seats, in a Gal Hadash poll for Israel Hayom.
Lieberman continued to rise in nearly every poll, hitting a peak of 21 seats in a poll taken by the Geocartographic Institute for the Globes newspaper.
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu expressed concern on Thursday that if too many right-wing voters cast ballots for the Likud's satellite parties, his party could end up losing the election despite leading the entire campaign.
"Most of the people in the national camp want to see me as prime minister and want the Likud's policies," Netanyahu told a packed audience of some 250 English-speaking Likud supporters at Jerusalem's Crown Plaza Hotel.
"But they all think I'm going to get elected anyway, so they think they can vote for other parties in the national camp. If they do that, the gap between Likud and Kadima narrows. And if that happens, there could be a very unfortunate result."
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction with the narrowing gap in the polls. An internal Kadima poll conducted by party pollster Kalman Geyer Wednesday night found that the party actually had a one-seat lead.
"I'm going to win against all odds," Livni said in closed conversations Thursday. "This is a historic opportunity, and I believe the public will make it happen. The momentum of the last week and a half will bring victory."
Kadima strategist Lior Chorev said that despite the significant lead for the right-wing bloc over the Left and Kadima, Livni would have no problem forming a government. He said it would actually be easier for her to form a government than Netanyahu, because as the leader of a centrist party she could bring in virtually any party, while the Likud might have to struggle to bridge the gaps between Shas and Israel Beiteinu on civil issues.
"If we get one seat more than Likud, we will prove that there really are no blocs, and we will easily form a government," Chorev said. "The undecided decided one thing. They don't want Bibi. Now we just have to persuade them to vote Kadima. We just have to let the wind blow our sails as it did the last week, and we will win the race."
Israel Beiteinu's strategists expressed confidence that they, too, would maintain their momentum and keep rising until Tuesday's real results were in. They said they would continue to "capitalize on the anger and frustration citizens feel against Israeli Arabs."
When the poll indicating that Israel Beiteinu would win 21 seats was published, Lieberman congratulated the 21st candidate on his list, Danny Hershtal, an oleh from Toronto.
"Get yourself a suit, you are getting in," Lieberman told Hershtal, who would be the first Canadian-born MK since the late Zvi Weinberg of Yisrael Ba'aliya and the late Montreal-born minister Dov Yosef before him.
"I won't get too excited yet, because there's still a lot of work to do to get the people who answered the poll to actually make it to a polling station and put the right ballot in," Hershtal said.
The Likud Anglo event attracted a crowd of some 500 people. Former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon spoke about the lack of hope currently being experienced by the people of Israel.
"I have found that in the last couple of years, the Israeli people have stopped believing in their leaders, and their leaders have stopped believing in the people of Israel," Ya'alon said.
According to Ya'alon, this loss of hope was the result of the current government's policies of concession and retreat, which in turn had "empowered extremism and Jihadism" worldwide.
"As a result of the land-for-peace formula and the Oslo Accords, we got land for terror, with more than 1,000 casualties. With the disengagement from Gaza, we got land for rockets. Kadima hasn't learned their lesson yet," he said. "This weak leadership has eroded our confidence and needs to be replaced."
Tori Cheifetz contributed to this report.