Unity Within Likud as it Continues to Top Polls

Likud leaders Netanyahu and Shalom met for a reconciliation meeting, with polls show the party taking the next elections in a walk.

Hillel Fendel ,

Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who heads the opposition in the Knesset, met on Thursday with his party's #2, Silvan Shalom, for the first time in several months. The two had not been on speaking terms ever since the Likud primaries this past summer, when Shalom accused Netanyahu of manipulating the date for his own ends, and other dictatorial policies.  Shalom has also said that Netanyahu is not leading the opposition with sufficient ardor.

However, elder party statesman MK Ruby Rivlin felt the time had come to get the two back together, and arranged yesterday's meeting. Rivlin said afterwards that the get-together went well, and that the two would work in tandem to topple the current Kadima-led government.

Shalom served as Science Minister under Prime Minister Netanyahu in the late 90's, as well as Finance Minister in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's first government (2001-2003) and Foreign Minister in Sharon's second government (2003-2005).  He said there would be another meeting with Netanyahu "at which we will discuss all the personal and party issues."  Shalom also said they discussed ways to work together to bring about the end of the current government.

Likud Flying High in the Polls
In the meantime, the Likud continues to do well in public opinion surveys.  Though it dropped from 38 to 12 Knesset seats in the last election - mainly because of the split caused by Ariel Sharon's formation of the Kadima Party - it now appears to be headed towards winning back most of its losses. 

A poll carried out by the Dahaf Institute for the Yediot Acharonot newspaper finds that the Likud and Kadima would simply switch places: Kadima would plunge from its current 29 Knesset mandates to 12, while the Likud would rocket from its current 12 to 29.  The poll also shows that Labor would climb slightly, from 19 to 22.

Aside from the total disappearance from the political map of the Pensioners party, which currently has 7 seats, no major changes would befall the other political parties, according to the survey. 

Another survey carried out this week - by Brain Base for Voice of Israel Radio's "It's All Talk" program, shows that while 29% of the public feels the Annapolis summit failed, the majority - 56% - is not sure exactly what happened there. Nearly three-quarters of the public do not believe the Annapolis claim that a final agreement will be reached by the end of 2008.