JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s approval rating remains low, with a newspaper poll on Friday showing his centrist Kadima party would lose to Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud if fresh elections were held.
Olmert’s popularity plunged after the war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group and has failed to recover amid political scandals and the government’s inability to stop Palestinian rockets being fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
The survey in the Maariv newspaper showed Likud would win 29 seats –up from 12 now — in the 120-member parliament. Olmert’s Kadima would get 18, down from the 29 it won in March elections. An earlier poll in October gave Kadima 15 seats.
Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu would receive 14 seats, Maariv reported, pushing Defence Minister Amir Peretz’s Labour into fourth place with 12.
Labour is the senior coalition partner to Kadima while Lieberman recently joined the government as minister of strategic affairs, helping Olmert shore up his coalition.
The recent polls have indicated a move back to the right since the Lebanon war and particularly towards Netanyahu, a former prime minister seen as having stronger security credentials than Olmert.
Not long after an Aug. 14 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah went into effect, one poll showed 63 percent of Israelis wanted Olmert to resign. That question was not asked in Friday’s poll.