Netanyahu behind in final polling day before election

Netanyahu behind in final polling day before election

JERUSALEM - Final opinion polls published Friday put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party four seats behind its centre-left rivals, days before the general election.

The top-selling Yediot Aharonot showed Likud's main challenger, the Zionist Union coalition, winning 26 of the 120 seats in parliament against 22 for Netanyahu's party.

Its survey of 1,032 respondents by pollster Mina Tzemach put The Joint List, a newly formed alliance of Israel's main Arab parties, in third, with 13 seats.

The poll had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, the paper said.

A Panels Research poll published jointly by The Jerusalem Post and Maariv dailies showed the same four-seat gap between parties, with the Zionist Union winning 25 against 21 for Likud.

The survey of 1,300 people also saw The Joint List winning 13 places. It had a margin of error of 3.0 per cent.

Friday is the final day that opinion polls may legally be published before the vote.

The Zionist Union fuses the Labour party of Isaac Hertzog with the centrist HaTnuah led by Tzipi Livni, formerly Israel's chief peace negotiator with the Palestinians.

Recent polls had put it two to three places ahead of Likud. A Thursday survey by the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper gave the Zionist Union 24 seats to Likud's 21.

The Joint List was third with 13 seats.

Israel's electoral system means that the government is not formed by the largest party, but by whichever party leader can build a coalition commanding a parliamentary majority.

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