Israel's Livni not seen harming right bloc with new party



Israel: The new party set up by Israel's former opposition leader Tzipi Livni is likely to fare poorly in the January elections and have no impact on the strength of the rightwing bloc, a poll said Wednesday. Livni returned to politics on Tuesday after a seven-month hiatus, announcing the creation of a new faction called HaTnuah, hoping to affect what surveys have suggested will be an easy electoral win for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his bloc of rightwing and religious allies.

But a survey conducted by Dialog-Haaretz published in Haaretz showed that HaTnuah would only win seven seats out of the 120 in Israel's parliament, which would come from other centrist parties, without diminishing Netanyahu's power. "Not only is Livni's bloc not growing stronger since she entered the race, it is on track to win fewer Knesset seats than it has now," wrote Yossi Verter in Haaretz.

The survey, conducted among 514 respondents, also showed that only one in five Israelis or 21 percent see Livni the best candidate for prime minister, compared to 66 percent who see Netanyahu as the most suitable candidate. A former member of Netanyahu's Likud party, Livni broke away in November 2005 with then prime minister Ariel Sharon to set up the centre-right Kadima faction which she eventually came to lead.

After losing the leadership primary in March to challenger Shaul Mofaz, she resigned from politics on May 1. "Israel's situation is deteriorating," she warned in her Tuesday comeback speech. "I came to fight for peace." Livni did not say who would be part of her party, nor did she detail its principles.

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