by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
(IsraelNN.com) A new poll published on Channel One television Tuesday night projects Likud party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu as the next prime minister with a commanding 37-25 lead over Kadima, chaired by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
His projected coalition of religious and nationalist parties has reached 68 MKs. The telephone survey was carried out by the Geocartographia professional polling firm.
Following are the results with the parties’ present strength in brackets.
Likud: 37 
Kadima: 25 
Shas: 11 
Arab parties: 9 
Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu): 8 
United Torah Judaism (UTJ): 8 [ 6]
Meretz: 8 [ 5]
Labor: 7 
Jewish Home: 4 [ 9]
Green: 3 [ 0]
The Jewish Home party is a spin-off of the National Union/National Religious party. The Green party has shown strength in polls in the past two elections but never has succeeded in passing the minimum number of votes for Knesset representation. Previous polls this year have given it 0-2 seats.
The latest poll also shows the continuing collapse of the Labor party, which has lost strength to Meretz. The party has been badly splintered by political infighting and ideological battles.
The poll shows that Likud chairman MK Netanyahu’s star-studded list of new faces has had a positive impact on the public. Since it was carried out, Netanyahu has added former basketball star and American expatriate Tal Brody to the list as well as ex-Kadima MK Zev Elkin. Elkin, a native of the former Soviet Union, is popular among Russian immigrants and may strengthen the Likud even more in the next polls.
Netanyahu also is considered by the public to be best able to handle the current economic crisis. He is widely credited for the unprecedented growth in the Israeli economy over the past few years following his economic program when he was Finance Minister in the Sharon government.
In response to a question about which party can best manage the economy, 37 percent of the respondents to the Geocartographia poll backed the Likud, and only 15 percent chose Kadima.