[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: The Smith poll is indeed a puzzle. Mr. Olmert's
positions on Arab-Israeli affairs, that are to the left of Meretz, have won
him tremendous support from certain leading elements in the Israeli media
that share his views. But most Israeli voters do not share these
Olmert could pose threat to PM in election, poll finds
By GIL HOFFMAN The Jerusalem Post
LAST UPDATED: 07/13/2012 07:13
A comeback by former prime minister Ehud Olmert would have a huge impact on
the political map, according to a Smith Research poll commissioned by The
Jerusalem Post following Olmert’s acquittal on the key corruption charges
against him on Tuesday. But the former Kadima leader vehemently denied on
Thursday he was seeking a return to politics.
Were Olmert to form a new centrist party that included Kadima and Yesh Atid
Party leader Yair Lapid, it could win 30 seats, compared to 27 for Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, according to the poll. The new party
would take away mandates from Likud and Labor and could potentially form the
The poll found that if Olmert returned to the helm of Kadima, the party
would win 17 seats, compared to just eight under its current head, Shaul
Mofaz. Kadima under Olmert would take three mandates away from Labor, one
from Yisrael Beytenu and five from the newly formed Yesh Atid.
But when asked who is most fit to be prime minister, Netanyahu won by a wide
margin. Thirty-three percent said Netanyahu, 15% opposition leader Shelly
Yechimovich, 12% Olmert, 10% Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and just
three percent Mofaz. 27% said none of the above or that they had no opinion.
Netanyahu did especially well among respondents under 30, while Olmert fared
better among people over 50. Among those who voted for Kadima in 2009, 30%
preferred Olmert, 22% Yechimovich, 19% Netanyahu and only one percent said
Mofaz or Liberman.
The poll of 500 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult
population was conducted by telephone on Wednesday. It had a 4.5% margin of
Olmert vigorously denied a Haaretz report that on the eve of the acquittal
of most corruption charges against him, he said he was thinking of seeking
his old job and that Lapid would join him. He told reporters at Tel Aviv
University’s Institute for National Security Studies on Thursday that he
“enjoyed learning about my plans from the papers,” but that the report was
“I have no intention of entering political activity,” he said. “I am not
involved and I do not intend to be involved. I have a party, Kadima, that I
am a member of. I won’t form a new party. I am busy with other things now.
Please don’t drag me to places where I don’t want to be and things I don’t
plan to be involved in.”
However, sources close to Olmert confirmed earlier this week that he is
motivated to return. His associates said he still felt bitter about the way
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other politicians forced him to quit when
the corruption allegations first surfaced.
Lapid also denied the report, saying that anyone who was trying to connect
him to Olmert was attempting to harm his party. Olmert is a family friend of
Lapid, who said he was happy about the acquittals.
“Despite the reports, Yesh Atid does not and will not in the future have any
intention or plan to run together with Olmert, who is a member of Kadima,”
Lapid’s spokeswoman said.
“Kadima has failed as the representative of the sane Center and we intend to
replace it in the next election.”
Olmert has not fared as well in polls in other media outlets. A Midgam poll
broadcast on Channel 10 Wednesday night found that 70% of the public did not
want him to return to politics and just 22% said he should come back.
A New Wave Research poll published Thursday in Israel HaYom found that 55.2%
of Israelis oppose Olmert returning to public office. The poll found that
26.8% believe he could return to politics.
When asked whether Olmert was innocent or guilty in the Rishon Tours and
Talansky affairs, 37.5% said guilty, 23.9% said innocent and 38.6% said they
did not know or declined to comment. The poll of 500 respondents has a 4.4%
margin of error.