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Netanyahu Holds Poll Lead After Livni Entry, Survey Says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lead heading toward elections on Jan. 22 has been little affected by the entry into the race of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, according to a poll published today.

Livni’s new party, dubbed “The Movement,” would win just seven seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, according to a voter survey commissioned by the Haaretz daily. Netanyahu’s combined list with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Likud-Beitenu, would garner 39 seats according to the survey, more than double the 18 seats gained by its nearest contender, the Labor Party.

Other Netanyahu allies in the current ruling coalition would provide the prime minister with more than the 60 seats needed to form a new government, the poll showed. Livni’s former Kadima party, now headed by former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz would gain just two seats, the survey showed.

Livni founded The Movement after declining offers to join Labor and the newly founded Yesh Atid party. “I have come to fight for peace, a sober peace and I will not let the word peace become an obscenity,” Livni said at a Tel Aviv press conference yesterday announcing her entry into the race.

Under Israel’s political system, prime ministers have to cobble together several parties to attain a majority in the Knesset. In 2009, the Livni-led Kadima won more seats than Likud while failing to build a ruling coalition, allowing Netanyahu to assume power.

The Haaretz poll, conducted by Camil Fuchs of the Statistics and Operations Research Department at Tel Aviv University, was based on a representative sample of 514 Israelis and has a 4.2 percent margin of error.

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