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      Poll: Bayit Yehudi a Solid Third, Now Closing in on Labor

      Bayit Yehudi is now polling as the third largest party in the Knesset, and is closing in to become the second largest, a new poll said
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 12/27/2012, 12:41 PM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Flash 90

      The latest polls showed that last weekend's dust-up over Naftali Bennett's stance on how IDF soldiers who are uncomfortable with immoral orders are supposed to react has not had a negative impact on the Bayit Yehudi party's standing with the public. If anything, the controversy seems to have helped the party's prospects. Bayit Yehudi is now polling to come in as the third largest party in the Knesset, and is closing in to become the second largest.

      The party, headed by Bennett, continues to nip at the heels of the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list, and the latest weekly poll by Israel Radio shows that Bennett's party is up to 15 seats, while the Likud-Beytenu is down to 34 – the highest and lowest numbers polled in the Israel Radio poll for both parties, respectively. With 15 seats, Bayit Yehudi would be in a solid position as the third largest part in the Knesset, nearly as powerful as Labor, which, according to the poll, would receive 16 seats if elections were held today.

      Other results of the poll showed Shas getting 13 seats; Tzippy Livni's “Hatnua” party with 11; Yair Lapid's “Yesh Atid” with 9; United Torah Jewry with 6; Meretz with five; Hadash and Arab party Ra'am-Ta'al with 4 each; and Arab party Balad with 3.

      Besides the continued strength of Bayit Yehudi in the polls, political commentators on Israel Radio said, the poll was notable for the continuing slide in strength of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list, which has been hurt by the charisma of Bennett, and the legal troubles of Avigdor Lieberman. Also notable, the commentators said, was the stabilization of Shas' constituency, which had been fluctuating between the Likud and the anti-Shas Am Shalem list, which now appears as if it will not win enough votes to get into the Knesset at all.

      The latest poll also shows Kadima failing to get into the Knesset at all in the next elections.