Poll: NRP-NU merger yet to bear fruit

Eitam, however, claims joint list will replace Likud as dominant Right party.

Slomianski/Orlev NRP 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Slomianski/Orlev NRP 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The new National Union and National Religious Party joint list will replace the Likud as the dominant party on the Right, National Union MK Effi Eitam declared in a Jerusalem press conference Thursday. A Jerusalem Post poll doesn't yet bear this out. Taken Tuesday, as news of the imminent merger broke, it predicted that the two parties would receive only seven to eight seats running together and would win about the same separately - three for the NRP and five for the National Union. The telephone poll of 501 people over the age of 18 was conducted by Smith and Associates and had a 4.5 percent margin of error. It predicted that Kadima would win 40-41 seats, Likud and Labor 17 each, Shas eight to nine, Israel Beiteinu seven to eight, United Torah Judaism five to six, Meretz four and the Arab parties nine. In response, National Union officials said one of the factors that convinced them to go ahead with the merger was a Ma'agar Muhot poll they commissioned two weeks ago that found that, separately, the National Union would win six seats and the NRP three, but they would win 13 together. "You will see us passing one party after another in the polls," National Union MK Zvi Hendel said. Kadima released a statement calling upon former NRP voters to come to Kadima instead of supporting the National Union's platform of transferring Palestinians. Kadima officials expressed confidence that thousands of NRP supporters would not follow NRP chairman Zevulun Orlev to the National Union. "After 55 years, the NRP has collapsed politically, morally and ideologically," said Otniel Shneller, one of four kippa-wearing Kadima candidates. "The fact that the NRP, that always served as a bridge between religious and secular and Left and Right, no longer exists, leaves many longtime NRP supporters homeless and creates an opportunity for Kadima." An NRP spokesman said, "Kadima cannot pretend to represent the interests of religious Zionism when it advocates policies that would harm the state religious school system." Kadima scored a victory in the Central Elections Committee on Thursday, when the committee rejected a petition from the Likud asking it to disqualify Kadima's jingle because it sounded too much like "Hatikva," the national anthem. The Likud had accused Kadima of illegally exploiting "Hatikva" for political gain. Likud representatives presented their list of Knesset candidates to the committee on Thursday night. Former Knesset speaker Dov Shilansky was given the honorary 120th slot on the list. The Likud representatives also told the committee that they had signed a vote-sharing agreement with Israel Beiteinu. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu will continue his tradition of visiting strategic locations on Sundays, with a visit next week to the Jordan Valley. The visit is intended to contrast the Likud's position that the valley must remain part of Israel forever, with Kadima's intention of holding on to a security zone in the Jordan Valley without annexing it.