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      Poll: Likud Beytenu Doesn't Gain, Jewish Home Does

      Israelis want Binyamin Netanyahu to continue as Prime Minister but still prefer Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, new poll finds.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 1/2/2013, 6:14 AM

      Likud members
      Likud members
      Flash 90

      Israelis want Binyamin Netanyahu to continue as Prime Minister but still prefer Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, a poll released Tuesday finds.

      The poll, conducted for Channel 2 News by the Dahaf Institute, found that while the Likud Beytenu remains the Knesset's largest party, it has not gained any seats in recent days and remains at just 33 seats - 15 less than the number of seats the two parties had together in the outgoing Knesset.

      A poll published by the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot last Friday also showed the front-running party getting just 33 seats.

      The Channel 2 poll found that the Labor party, while remaining the Knesset's second largest party, receives just 17 seats. Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), which has enjoyed a surge in popularity despite attempts by the Likud to directly attack its chairman Naftali Bennett, continues to gain momentum and receives 13 seats, making it the Knesset's third largest party.

      Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, Tzipi Livni's Hatnua and Shas follow the Jewish Home with 11 seats each, the poll found. United Torah Judaism receives six seats while Meretz is up to five seats. The Arab parties maintain their power with four seats for Hadash and Ra'am-Ta'al and three seats for Balad.

      The poll also found that the Otzma LeYisrael party will pass the electoral threshold with two seats, keeping MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari in the Knesset. Kadima and Am Shalem, headed by former Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, do not pass the electoral threshold.

      All in all, the poll found, the nationalist camp would achieve 65 Knesset seats if elections were held today.

      What makes the poll quite interesting are questions regarding the popularity of current Knesset members. Asked who is more suitable to be Israel's Finance Minister, 49% of respondents said that current Minister Yuval Steinitz is more suitable while only 21% favored Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich, who has struggled to make the economy an election agenda.

      Perhaps most interesting is the fact that 49% of respondents said that Ehud Barak was their preferred choice for Defense Minister, despite his recently having announced his retirement from politics. In contrast, 27% said they believed Minister Moshe Ya'alon is a worthy candidate for the position, and 10% said they support Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister.

      The respondents were also asked about their favored candidate for Foreign Minister and here, too, outgoing Minister Lieberman loses out to a candidate from the center-left. Only 33% of respondents said they believe Lieberman is suitable for the position of Foreign Minister. Tzipi Livni, who served in the role before Lieberman, was preferred by 58% of respondents.