Poll: Most Israelis want Olmert out


A narrow majority of Israelis believe Ehud Olmert should resign over suspicions of financial misdeeds, a poll found.

According to the survey in Monday’s Yediot Achronot, 59 percent of Israelis want the prime minister to step down in light of a police investigation into his ties with an American financier at the heart of bribery allegations. Thirty-three percent back Olmert’s decision to stay in office and the rest are undecided.

Olmert has denied wrongdoing in the Morris Talansky affair. But the poll found that 60 percent of Israelis do not believe the prime minister’s public assertions that he never took bribes, while 22 percent do.

The scandal appears to have hit Olmert’s already low approval ratings. According to Yediot, which in February found that 18 percent of Israelis thought Olmert was best suited to be prime minister, that figure is now down to 10 percent.

By contrast, 37 percent of Israelis want right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power, while 20 percent favor Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, another former premier who is now Olmert’s defense minister.

But Olmert’s centrist Kadima Party could see surprising success against Netanyahu’s Likud if the prime minister were replaced by his senior deputy, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and elections were held today.

According to the Yediot poll, a Livni-led Kadima would take 27 percent of votes against 23 percent for Likud and 15 percent for Labor.

The survey had 500 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.

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