Centre-left tops opinion polls ahead of Israel vote

The centre-left challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s Likud party is projected to win the most seats in next week`s General Election, final opinion polls showed.

Jerusalem: The centre-left challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s Likud party is projected to win the most seats in next week`s General Election, final opinion polls showed.

Two surveys, issued on Friday night by private television channels, both gave the Zionist Union a four-seat lead over Likud.

A poll by Channel 10 showed Likud winning 20 seats compared with 24 for the Zionist Union. Channel 2`s results also showed Likud four seats behind, 22 to 26. 

Friday was the final day that opinion polls could legally be published before the vote on March 17.

The results echoed polls published earlier Friday, which both predicted the Zionist Union would edge out Likud.

Those surveys also put The Joint List, a newly-formed alliance of Israel`s main Arab parties, in third place, with 13 seats.

Centre-right Yesh Atid is forecast to win 12 seats.

Although consistently trailing in the polls, Netanyahu has come out fighting, and analysts say he is still better placed than Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to form a coalition government after the election.

Israel`s electoral system means that the government is not formed by the largest party, but by whichever party leader can build a coalition commanding a parliamentary majority.