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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Monday's Likud leadership race could be closer than previously expected, according to polls of Likud members published Tuesday.
So far, every poll has predicted that former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu would win the race. But new polls suggested tha t Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom had gained on Netanyahu since Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz quit the race and bolted to Kadima.
A poll sponsored by Shalom and conducted by Dr. Tali Weiss of the RMD firm found that Shalom had narrowed the gap, with Netanyahu receiving 36.5 percent of the vote to 34.2% for Shalom. Likud activist Moshe Feiglin would finish third with 6.6% and Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz fourth with 3.3%, according to the poll.
Netanyahu's spokesman said his internal polls were similar to a Dahaf Institute poll in Yediot Aharonot that put Netanyahu in the lead with 39% to Shalom's 29%. Among Likud members who said they definitely planned to vote, Netanyahu would receive 45% of the vote, Shalom 30%, Feiglin 14% and Katz 4%.
Ma'ariv published a Teleseker poll that gave Netanyahu 35.3% of the vote, Shalom 22.5%, Feiglin 11.8% and Katz 2.5%. According to Teleseker, among Likud members who definitely planned to vote, Netanyahu would win 45.5% of the vote, Shalom 22%, Feiglin 15.5% and Kat z 2.7%.
The numbers are significant because Netanyahu needs 40% of Likud members' votes on Monday to avoid a runoff against Shalom. The polls also show that Feiglin has attracted a significant amount of support.
Two Likud activists started petition driv es on Tuesday to try to prevent Feiglin from running. Some 700 central committee members signed one of the petitions that claimed Feiglin did not share the Likud's outlook, values or goals.
Katz, who is chairman of the Likud's governing secretariat, said last week he would try to expel Feiglin and his supporters from the party.
Meanwhile, former Likud MK Akiva Nof announced Tuesday he would appeal to the secretariat to disqualify Monday's vote in the Likud central committee that advanced slots for newco mers on the party's Knesset list.
Nof, who is running for the Knesset with the Likud, said the vote didn't count because only 29% of the 3,000 central committee members voted, while a third of the members were necessary for a quorum. He said if, a s expected, the secretariat rejected his appeal, he would go to the party's legal authorities.
"It's not even a legal question that the vote didn't count," Nof said. "If the Likud had a legal adviser, he probably wouldn't even have let the votes be count ed."
Attorney Eitan Haberman, who had been the Likud's legal advisor for 20 years, left the party for Kadima last month.sf
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