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Israelis prepare for new poll

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Israelis prepare for new poll

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Israel faces a general election more than a year ahead of schedule. Although opinion polls are forecasting a win for the opposition right-wing Likud party, prime minister Tzipi Livni still has her supporters.

“I definitely think Tzipi Livni will succeed,” said a woman in Tel Aviv. “She is going to an election and she’s a strong person. She a woman, she’s loyal, she’s faithful, we need someone who brings a new spirit.”

A general election raises the possibility of a return to power of veteran right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu. Analysts believe many Israelis would favour him over Livni because of his uncompromising position on security.

The political upheaval now means Palestinians don’t know who they will face when peace talks resume. ‘We consider the internal situation in Israel, whether they go to a coalition or election, as a domestic Israeli matter,” said chief negotiator Saeb Erakat.

“Having said that, I hope the Israeli people will choose peace and to end the occupation, end such settlement activities, and chose a two-state solution. The state of Palestine. The state of Israel,” he added.

An early Israeli general election has effectively killed the slim chance of a peace agreement before US President George Bush leaves office in January.