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      Polls: Likud to Win, but Yisrael Beiteinu the Likely Victor

      A summary of all of the polls show that the Likud will come in first place by a small margin but that Yisrael Beiteinu will be the real victor.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 2/9/2009, 8:35 AM

      Israel News Photo

      A summary of all of the latest polls indicates that the Likud will come in first place by a small margin but that the Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) party, headed by Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman will be the real victor on Election Day.

      Announcing
      Election night coverage: Realtime results updated every 15 minutes
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      on IsraelNationalNews.com

      The five major polls of three Israeli dailies and two television channels show the lineup as follows:
      Likud (Netanyahu), 26
      Kadima (Livni), 23
      Yisrael Beiteinu (Lieberman), 18
      Labor (Barak), 16
      Shas (Yishai), 10

      Attention in the smaller parties has centered on the two national religious parties, Ichud Leumi (National Union), which a summary of the polls shows will win four to six mandates, and Jewish Home, which is projected to win three seats.

      Meretz will have six MKs and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) will have five, according to the surveys. The three Arab parties will remain with nine seats.

      The big uncertain factor in the elections is the undecided vote, which is estimated to be around 15 percent, most of which is debating between Kadima and Labor. An expected fierce winter storm on Tuesday might keep undecided and other less committed voters at home, strengthening Meretz, Ichud Leumi and Jewish Home, whose supporters are more likely to vote regardless of weather conditions.

      The differences between the polls are significant, with the Likud being projected to garner as few as 25 MKs, according to the Yediot Acharonot poll, and as many as 28 in the Dialog-Haaretz polls. All five polls awarded Kadima, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, 23-25 seats.

      Yisrael Beiteinu received 19 seats in four of the five polls, with the fifth survey giving the party one less. If the results reflect the polls, MK Lieberman will be catapulted into a powerful influence over the makeup of the next government and will limit the flexibility of Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, assuming his party wins the elections and heads the next coalition.

      If the polls are correct and Labor stands behind most of its members' refusal to sit in the same government as Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Netanyahu will have to include most of the religious and nationalist parties in the coalition.

      The projected government would restrict his freedom to negotiate away parts of Judea and Samaria and would force him to meet costly demands for increased government expenditures.