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      Poll: 26% of Likud Voters Against Unity Move

      About a quarter of Likud party voters are against the unity agreement between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, a new poll finds.
      By Elad Benari, Canada
      First Publish: 10/26/2012, 9:33 PM

      Lieberman and Netanyahu
      Lieberman and Netanyahu
      Flash 90

      About a quarter of the Likud party’s voters are against the unity agreement between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, a Channel 10 News poll released Friday found.

      The poll found that 26% of Likud voters said they were opposed to the move. Of that number, 22% of voters indicated they would not vote for the Likud party in January’s elections.

      The poll, however, is an initial one, and more than anything reflects the gut reaction of Likud voters to the move announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday. The poll found that 58% of Likud voters support the move.

      In order for the unity move to go ahead, it must be passed by the Likud Central Committee, which is scheduled to meet on Monday. Channel 10 reported that there appears to be great resistance to the move, including among senior Likud members such as Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and MK Miri Regev.

      However, the report noted, most of those who oppose the union with Yisrael Beytenu will likely not want to come out publicly against the prime minister shortly before the party’s primaries. As such it is believed that the move will likely be approved on Monday.

      Lieberman revealed on Friday that the bombshell announcement was one year in the making.

      “Talks about uniting started one year ago,” he said at an afternoon news conference. “A final decision was made nearly two months ago.”

      “We must move away from the reality of many parties,” Lieberman declared. “Apparently we will never reach two parties like the United States, but we have to guarantee stability and ability to rule. Our race together definitely creates a new reality and I hope it is clear to everyone that there is no other alternative.”

      “Everyone understands that it is much easier, and better, to manage the country with large parties and not fragments of parties with a lifespan of a single term and no ideology,” he continued.

      The first poll conducted after the surprise merger found that the change did not significantly strengthen the right. The mixed Likud-Yisrael Beyteinu party would get 33 seats, pollsters found, more than the Likud had previously been expected to get, but less than the two parties had been expected to get while running separately.

      The merger did not significantly change the balance between left and right-wing parties, which remained roughly even.

      The political left has criticized the merger of the two parties. Meretz head MK Zahava Galon went so far as to say it would strengthen “fascism.”

      (Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)