A poll released Thursday suggested that former Israeli prime minister and ex-Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu would beat Prime Minister Ehud Barak if a vote were held now, but that current Likud chief Ariel Sharon would lose.
Barak agreed Tuesday to stage elections in the coming months, two years ahead of schedule, before a series of bills were introduced calling for the dissolution of parliament.
In Thursday's poll, published by Israel's largest daily Yediot Aharonot, 51 percent of respondents said they would vote for Netanyahu while 37 percent said they would vote for Barak if the two candidates faced off in elections held now. Twelve percent of interviewees were undecided.
But if the race were between current Likud leader Ariel Sharon and Barak, 44 percent of voters would cast their ballots for the prime minister, while only 39 percent for Sharon. Seventeen percent of respondents were undecided.
The latest survey differs from one released last Friday which gave hawkish Sharon an 11-point lead over Barak, and Netanyahu a 21-point lead over the prime minister, who has increasingly come under fire for his handling of two months of spiraling violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel.
Netanyahu, who was elected in 1996 and beaten by Barak in 1999 elections, is currently in the United States and has not indicated whether he would launch a political comeback and run for the leadership of Likud and for prime minister.
According to the survey, 55 percent of Israelis said they were satisfied with moves to dissolve parliament and call early elections, with 41 percent against and four percent undecided.
The poll, conducted by the Dahaf institute, interviewed 503 people and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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