(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Rightist bloc led by the Likud will defeat the Left, led by Kadima and Labor, by eight Knesset seats in the national election on February 10, according to a Jerusalem Post/Smith Research poll.
The survey, taken on Wednesday of 501 respondents representing a statistical sample of the electorate, found that Likud, Shas, Israel Beiteinu, the National Union-National Religious Party and United Torah Judaism would combine for 64 seats, while Labor, Kadima, Meretz and the Arab parties would together win only 56.
If those numbers prove to be correct, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu could form a right-wing government that would likely end negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and perhaps with Syria. However, Netanyahu told the Knesset this week that he wanted to see Kadima and Labor in his government.
The February 10 election date was finalized on Thursday.
While other polls taken earlier in the week found that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's refusal to give in to Shas's coalition demands helped her Kadima Party climb ahead of Netanyahu's Likud, the new survey reported that Kadima and the Likud would tie with 27 mandates each.
The Labor Party under Ehud Barak would win 14 seats, three or four more than other surveys predicted this week. While other polls predicted that enough of a protest vote existed to elect the environmentalist Green Party to the next Knesset, the Post poll found that it would not pass the 2 percent electoral threshold.
Still, pollster Rafi Smith noted that some 17% of respondents, representing a potential 20 mandates, were undecided. He said a significant portion of those respondents had voted for Kadima and Labor in 2006.
"Voters of parties on the Right are much more hard-core in their support for the parties that they voted for in past elections than Kadima, while voters who backed Kadima, Labor and Meretz in the last election are more fluid," Smith said.
The poll found that a surprisingly large number of people who voted for Labor in 2006, some 14%, were planning to vote for the Likud this time.
Kadima will receive the largest portion of former voters of the Pensioner's Party, which the poll predicted would not return to the Knesset after ironically winning much of the protest vote from young voters in the last election.
A Ma'agar Mohot poll broadcast on Israel Radio Thursday predicted that Labor would win 16 or 17 seats, much higher than the 10 predicted in a Dialog poll published in Haaretz the same day.
The Ma'agar Mohot poll gave Likud 25-26 seats over Kadima's 22-23. The Dialog poll predicted that Kadima and Likud would both win 31 seats.
A Gal Hadash poll published in Yisrael Hayom gave the Likud 31 mandates, Kadima 30 and Labor 13. While most surveys predict the NU-NRP will keep its current nine seats, the Gal Hadash poll predicted it would fall to six.
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik on Thursday formally notified the Knesset House Committee that the election will be held on February 10.
Parties will be required to submit their Knesset candidate lists by the end of December.
State employees and soldiers who wish to run will have to quit their jobs next week. Televised election advertisements will begin on January 10 and the publishing of polls will be banned starting on February 6.
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