Poll suggests Israeli right would win elections


A coalition of Israel's extreme right and hardcore religious parties would give Israel's Mr Ariel Sharon's Likud Party victory in the next national elections, according to a poll today.

The Israeli prime minister's hawkish Likud would bury the left if new elections were held today after the dovish Labor Party left his national unity government, said the survey published in top-selling Yediot Aharonot.

It predicts Likud's numbers in parliament would jump from 19 to 31 seats, while the Labour Party would slip from 25 to 19 seats.

If Likud presses ahead with plans to court the extreme right and religious parties, Mr Sharon could hold a majority of 66 seats out of the 120 in parliament.

Another poll showed that the Israeli public blamed Labour and its leader, outgoing defence minister Mr Binyamin Ben Eliezer, for the fall of the 20-month coalition government and not Mr Sharon.

A second poll in Yediotfound 61 per cent of Israelis faulted Mr Ben Eliezer for the government's collapse after he resigned from the cabinet in a row over the 2003 austerity budget package; only 22 per cent blamed Mr Sharon.