Likud undamaged by Bibi scandal

Benjamin Netanyahu was hurt by a recent scandal but his Likud Party is still Israel’s most popular, a poll found.

According to a survey in Tuesday’s Ma’ariv, 60.2 percent of Israelis think less of the former prime minister after a weekend television expose revealed that he spent more than $30,000 on a luxury weeklong 2006 trip to London while he worked to defend Israel during the Second Lebanon War.

Nearly 36 percent of Israelis believe the controversy caused little or no harm to Netanyahu’s image, while the remaining respondents offered no answer on the issue.

Netanyahu, the opposition leader, has denied wrongdoing and accused political rivals of smearing him in a bid to prevent his return to top office.

But the Ma’ariv poll found that were general elections to be held today, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party would win with 30 percent of votes – a strong showing unchanged since a previous survey. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s center-left Labor Party would finish second with 19 percent of the vote, followed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s centrist Kadima with 15 percent.

The newspaper did not provide the number of respondents. The margin of error was 5 percent.

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