Poll: Olmert could stay atop Kadima

Ehud Olmert is trailing two Kadima Party rivals but has a chance to stay at the helm, a poll found.

According to the survey in Thursday’s Yediot Achronot, the prime minister was third in a Kadima leadership election behind Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The survey had Livni with 31 percent of the vote, Mofaz with 23 percent and Olmert with 22 percent.

Olmert’s government has been rocked by a police investigation into his finances, but the prime minister averted a coalition split this week by agreeing to hold a Kadima primary by September.

The key witness in the case against Olmert, American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, is due to make a second appearance in a Jerusalem court on July 17.

Should Olmert’s lawyers manage to undermine Talansky’s testimony that he gave the prime minister more than $150,000 in potentially illegal cash handouts, it could affect the power structure in the ruling Israeli party, according to the survey.

Olmert would remain Kadima’s chairman with 30 percent support among its electorate, followed by Livni with 26 percent and Mofaz 19 percent.

Two other Kadima hopefuls, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, would finish well behind Mofaz.

Yediot polled 500 Kadima members. The survey had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

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