Netanyahu maintains comfortable lead in pre-election polls

Three Israeli election polls predicted victory by a comfortable margin for Israel’s HaLikud Beiteinu party in the country’s general elections on Jan. 22.

A Ma’agar Mohot survey published in Ma’ariv has the list led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clinching 38 seats, followed by Shelly Yacimovich's Labor with 16 seats and Naftali Bennett's nationalist Jewish Home party with 13.

Last month, Netanyahu joined his Likud Party to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu Party to unite in a right-wing list for this election.

The Sephardic fervently Orthodox Shas party received 12 seats in the poll; the secularist Yesh Atid party, led by Yair Lapid, garnered eight seats and Tzippi Livni’s Hatnua party got seven. The poll was based on replies delivered on Tuesday by 1,000 voters.

In the poll, the center-right bloc had 52 seats, not including Shas, which many view as a rightist movement though it has joined both left-wing and right-wing coalitions. The center-left bloc had 39 seats including the party of  Lapid, who, unlike Yachimovich and Livni, has not excluded the possibility of joining a Likud-led coalition.

The three Arab parties got a combined electoral strength of 10 seats in the poll.  Arab parties, while not seen as part of the center-left bloc, have supported center-left governments from outside the government.

A poll published in Yedioth Ahronoth based on the replies of 1,000 respondents and conducted by the Dahaf polling company predicted 33 seats for HaLikud Beiteinu; 18 seats for Labor; 14 seats for Jewish Home; 11 seats for Yesh Atid and 10 seats for Shas. In the Dahaf poll, the center-right bloc has 49 seats compared to the center-left’s 45 seats.

A Smith Research poll published by The Jerusaleצ Post has Halikud Beiteinu leading with 34 seats; Labor with 18 seats; Jewish home with 14; Yesh Atid and Shas with 10 seats each and Livni’s party with eight.

The poll surveyed 870 people representing a statistical sample of the adult population and had an error margin of 3.3 percentage points, compared to 4.5 points in the two other polls.

Kadima clinched two seats in all three polls. It received 28 seats in the 2009 elections.