Netanyahu still favored as prime minister

Monday, May 28, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

A survey conducted ahead of Monday's Labor Party primaries in Israel indicates that a majority of the public still prefers Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister over the various candidates contesting the chairmanship of the leading left-wing party.

The top two candidates in the Labor race are former prime minister Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon, a former navy admiral and director of Israel's internal security agency.

Ayalon has vowed to pull Labor out of the ruling coalition if he wins, a move that will likely bring about the downfall of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government. Many expect Barak to ultimately do the same.

If Olmer and his Kadima Party are removed from power and early elections are held, a poll carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute this month shows that Netanyahu would handily defeat Barak, but be given a run for his money by Ayalon.

The nation has been clamoring for early elections and Netanyahu's return to power ever since Olmert and his Labor partners botched last summer's war against Lebanon's Hizballah.

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