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Israeli leader slips in new elections poll
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 12 - 2012

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – New polls show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still poised to win the Jan. 22 elections, but one poll shows him slipping.
The Dahaf survey predicts Netanyahu's Likud-Yisrael Beitenu ticket will secure just 33 seats, down from 37 in last month's polling. Israel's parliament has 120 seats.
The poll, published Friday, questioned 1,250 people. Its margin of error was 3 percentage points.
Hard-liner Naftali Bennett's party rises from 10 seats last month to 12. It had five seats in the outgoing parliament.
The second survey, by Maagar Mohot pollsters, shows Netanyahu winning 37 seats and Bennett's party with 13. That poll questioned 491 people, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.
Bennett's Jewish Home party has risen to third place behind Netanyahu's team and the centrist Labor Party.
Meanwhile, the head of Israel's ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, ex-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, lashed out Friday against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying new peace talks would be possible only if he leaves office.
“Only after his disappearance from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority will it be possible to renew the diplomatic process,” Haaretz daily's website quoted him as saying in a statement.
Lieberman resigned on Dec. 13 after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he was charging him with fraud and breach of trust. A revised charge sheet citing new witnesses and fresh evidence is set to be filed on Sunday.
It is unclear when the case is likely to go to trial, but until then Lieberman will not have a ministerial role and his party's electoral alliance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is slipping in the polls, despite Netanyahu still seen as commanding an overall majority in the next parliament.
Talks between the two sides have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table and the Israelis insisting on no preconditions.
Following last month's historic United Nations vote giving the Palestinians upgraded status in the world body, Israel announced a new spate of settlement building in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. – Agencies


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