Poll: Livni will beat Mofaz 48%-38%

According to poll obtained by 'Post,' FM to win Kadima primary without requiring run-off contest.

livni dignified 224  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
livni dignified 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will easily defeat her competitors in the September 17 Kadima leadership race without requiring a run-off contest a week later against her closest challenger, according to a poll obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. The Smith Research poll of more than 1,200 registered Kadima members found that among those who said they were 90 percent sure they would vote, 48% said they would support Livni, 38% Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, 10% Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and 5% Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit. The poll was sponsored by Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo, who used it as one of the factors in deciding to endorse Livni on Thursday and to volunteer to chair her campaign in the field. Aflalo also received assurances from Livni that she did not negotiate a division of the Old City of Jerusalem in the diplomatic talks she leads with the Palestinian Authority. "Morally, I cannot go against the majority of Kadima members and voters who want Livni," Aflalo told 150 party activists loyal to him in Tel Aviv. "I see myself responsible for bringing enough people out to vote so that the advantage we have on paper will translate into results at the polls." He said Labor chairman Ehud Barak's recent attacks on Livni also helped solidify his decision to support her, because they showed him that "Barak is afraid of her." With Aflalo's endorsement, Livni obtained her 10th supporter among the 29 Kadima MKs, giving her a significant majority over Mofaz, who has six backers in the faction, and Sheetrit, who obtained his first endorsement from an MK on Thursday. Livni will convene her minyan of supporters at her Tel Aviv office on Friday afternoon. Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ya'acov Edri said he decided to back Sheetrit because he was the most experienced candidate, despite his poor showing in the polls. Edri and Sheetrit were both successful mayors of development towns, Or Akiva and Yavne, respectively. "Not everyone has to go according to the polls and wherever the wind blows," Edri said. "It's easy to go with a front-runner, but I decided to go with the most experienced candidate because of the challenges the country is facing. You have to go with what you believe in." Edri said it was difficult breaking the news to Livni and Mofaz that he would not be backing them, but he said each was happy that he did not endorse the other. Sheetrit and Dichter vowed on Thursday to stay in the race until the end despite the polls. The only remaining Kadima MKs who intend to make endorsements are Vice Premier Haim Ramon and MKs Shai Hermesh, Menahem Ben-Sasson, Michael Nudelman and Avraham Hirchson. But Ramon may end up not endorsing anyone. The key remaining endorsement comes from Hermesh, who registered 5,342 Kadima members from the kibbutzim and moshavim sector, according to official party numbers. Hermesh said the leadership of the sector would decide whom to support next week after meeting with Livni, Mofaz and Dichter. If neither Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik nor Ramon endorse a candidate, Hermesh will be the only ex-Labor Party member to make an endorsement, so his decision could impact many Kadima members who joined the party from Labor. Barak faced criticism within his party on Thursday from MKs, including Ami Ayalon and Avishay Braverman, who said he went too far in his attacks on Livni this week in which he questioned her decision-making abilities and called her by her full name of Tzipora. "To become relevant again, Labor must explain to the public who we are and how we will deal with the dilemmas Israel is facing, and not busy ourselves with the fights inside Kadima," Ayalon told Israel Radio. "We support Barak, but we won't walk blindly behind any leader and we will say what has to be said."