Final Israeli Polls Show Netanyahu Remaining in Office

The last Israeli election polls allowed by law before voting on Jan. 22 show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu garnering enough support to form a new government coalition.

Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu parliamentary list, which he formed by combining his Likud party with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu faction, will win 32 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, according to a poll published today in the Yediot Ahronot daily. Likud-Beitenu will garner 35 seats in a survey in the Maariv daily.

Both polls show that nationalist and religious parties that support Netanyahu’s more skeptical approach to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians will win a majority of Knesset seats. The Labor party, which criticizes the prime minister as too hard-line, trails a distant second with 17 seats in the Yediot survey.

“The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary,” Netanyahu said in an interview in today’s Jerusalem Post. He said construction will continue in “settlement blocs,” those areas of the West Bank claimed by Palestinians that he says must remain under Israeli control in any final peace deal.

Netanyahu conceded that policy will probably result in continued tensions with the U.S., referring to critical comments attributed this week to President Barack Obama in a Bloomberg View article. These differences are not new and “go back to the founding of the state,” Netanyahu said.

The Yediot poll of 1,000 Israelis, conducted on Jan. 16 and yesterday, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. Maariv’s survey involved 569 people and has a 4.5 percentage-point margin of error. The newspaper didn’t say when the poll was carried out.

The prime minister called for early elections in October a year ahead of schedule, after failing to agree with coalition partners on 14 billion shekels ($3.8 billion) in spending cuts for the 2013 budget to reduce the deficit.

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