Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new party, Kadima, would win 33 Knesset seats were elections held today, with Labor winning 26 seats and the Likud trailing far behind with only 13 seats, according to a survey commissioned by Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The survey, conducted by the Dahaf institute, also
revealed that about half (48 percent) of the people who voted for Likud in the elections for the 16th Knesset, intend to support Sharon in the future elections.
Sharon is also expected to win the backing of 41 percent of Shinui voters, as well as the support of many who chose to not to cast a ballot in the previous elections.
Among Labor voters, 33 percent stated they intend to support Sharon's party Kadima on March.
The recent transformations in the Israeli political map have brought about an interesting turnaround in attitudes toward the political system: while until a month ago many people have declared they intend to skip participating in the elections, this week most respondents to the survey stated they intend to vote.
The survey further indicated that the prime minister receives prominent support among the older sectors of the population (people over 51), while among younger people Sharon gains only 12 percent backing.
A great part of the younger population, 24 percent, said they will vote Likud.
'Sharon wants Arab leaders in party'
Meanwhile, the Israeli-Arab Kul Alarab newspaper reported Friday that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has held negotiations with several leaders of the Arab public, in a bid to enlist them to his new party.
The report revealed that Sharon was acting to persuade Arab leaders from different regions in Israel to join his party and gain seats on Kadima's list, this in a bid to secure the support of the Arab population in Israel.
"Ariel Sharon initiated contacts with an Arab senior figure three months ago, and intensive negotiations are in place to conclude an agreement with him. Sharon has expressed interest in the Arab sector, and is working to join Arab leaders to his party, to allow representation for this sector," an associate of Sharon explained.
"One of the Arab leaders who has expressed willingness to join Sharon, will very likely be included in the party's top ten list of Knesset members," he added.
"In addition, Sharon may also offer this figure a ministerial position once he is elected for office," the associate stated.