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      Polls: Kadima Dropping, Slowly but Steadily

      Polls taken less than four weeks before the election show that the Kadima Party retains its strong lead - but the lead is narrowing.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 3/5/2006, 12:51 PM / Last Update: 3/3/2006, 11:56 AM


      Four major surveys taken at the end of the week show the following results for the three largest parties:
      Kadima - 36-39 Knesset seats
      Likud - 15-18
      Labor - 19-21
      National Union/NRP - 9-11

      The other parties continue to remain basically steady, with Shas forecast to win 10 Knesset seats, Yisrael Beiteinu 9-11, Meretz 5-6, United Torah Judaism 5-6, and the three Arab parties a total of 7-9.

      The right-wing camp - comprising Likud, NU/NRP, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, and UTJ - is therefore currently expecting 48-56 seats. Right-wing activists are working actively in a face-to-face campaign to increase the camp's representation, hoping to form a "blocking bloc" of at least 60 MKs [half the Knesset] to prevent a left-wing government from being formed.

      In other election news, Shas Party chairman MK Eli Yishai expressed satisfaction with a decision by the Central Elections Committee on Thursday. Chairperson Justice Dorit Beinish rejected a complaint Yishai called "anti-religious and provocative" that had been submitted by the Meretz and Hetz (formerly Shinui) parties. The two parties wished to prevent Shas from distributing Books of Psalms during the election campaign.

      Beinish ruled that the holy books could be distributed, and that this did not represent "campaign bribery," but that they may not include personal blessings from Yishai or the late Rabbi Kaduri. She said that the Shas symbol would be allowed to appear in the books.

      Yishai said, "Meretz and Hetz have proven once again that their entire campaign is based on hatred of religion and Judaism."

      In light of the decision, Shas has undertaken to redouble its efforts to distribute the Psalms, "in order to increase love and fraternity in Israel," Yishai said.