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      Kadima Official: 'The Battle Appears Lost, Voters Shifting Right

      Senior Kadima official says hawks are growing stronger due to the continued terror attacks against Israel. Arabs may not vote at all.
      By Hana Levi Julian and Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 1/29/2009, 5:41 PM / Last Update: 1/30/2009, 5:41 AM

      A senior member of the ruling Kadima party was quoted as saying Friday that the dovish camp's situation in the election “appears bad, and in fact, the battle appears to be lost,” according to a report in News1.

      “The renewed attacks by terror organizations in Gaza are pushing voters to the Right bloc,” he said, “especially to Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.”

      Meanwhile, the senior source said, the “aftershocks” from Operation Cast Lead are now hitting the Labor Party and its leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Arabs with Israeli citizenship, many of whom voted for Zionist parties in previous elections, are threatening not to vote for Labor and Kadima because they see them as responsible for the deaths of Arabs in Gaza. This further weakens the “center-Left” bloc.

      Senior members of Labor are reportedly no longer seriously talking about the possibility of either winning the election or coming in second. The real struggle, reports News1, is to get one Knesset seat more than Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, “so that Labor can enter a coalition led by Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu “from a position of strength.”

      Poll shows Kadima Spiraling Downward
      A new poll published Thursday by the Voice of Israel government broadcast authority found that the Kadima party is continuing to drop in popularity.

      If elections were held today, the current coalition leader would only win 20 mandates in the next Knesset, according to the survey, putting the Likud party in the driver's seat with 29 mandates instead.

      The Russian immigrant Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party is tied with the Labor party in the poll, with both earning 16 mandates each. The Sephardic Shas party received 11 mandates, followed by United Torah Judaism, which received 7 mandates.

      The left-wing Meretz party received 4 mandates. The National Union and Jewish Home parties were also tied, with 3 mandates each. The Arab parties Hadash, Ta’al Re’em and Balad all received 3 mandates as well. The Pensioners party received enough votes for 2 mandates.

      A Haaretz-Dialog poll published earlier in the day claimed that "Kadima has only three Knesset seats less than Likud." The survey was carried out Tuesday and Wednesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University's Department of Statistics and Operations Research. Dialog noted that Yisrael Beiteinu had expanded the influence of the right wing to 65 Knesset seats. Leftist parties have only garnered 53 seats.

      According to the Haaretz-Dialog poll, Yisrael Beiteinu has surpassed the Labor party, winning 15 seats over Labor's 14 mandates. The Shas Sephardic religious party won 10 seats in the survey, and Ichud HaLeumi (National Union) and Habayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) together received seven mandates.

      As did the Voice of Israel poll, Dialog gave the Pensioners' Party two seats in the next Knesset. Meretz won five seats.

      However, 22 percent of the respondents in the survey said they were still undecided as to where they would cast their votes in the election.