Over half of Israelis still think Olmert should resign

Israel Materials 1 February 2008 15:22 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Slightly over half of Israelis interviewed for two polls in leading newspapers published Friday feel that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should resign in light of the finding of a commission of inquiry which investigated the war in Lebanon in 2006.

In the first thorough polls published since the Winograd committee released its findings on Wednesday, some 56 per cent according to Yedioth Aharonoth, and 53 per cent in a Haaretz poll, say the premier should step down.

However, in previous polls, most notably after the committee released last year an interim report, which was more critical than the final report, those demanding Olmert's resignation stood between 77 and 68 per cent.

According to Yedioth, only about 18 per cent of the public want Olmert to head the government, while opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu scored 30 per cent. For Olmert, this was a 10 percent gain from a previous poll conducted three weeks ago.

In Haaretz, Olmert had a 27 per cent support rating and Netanyahu pulled in 45 per cent, improvements from previous polls for both.

Trailing behind Netanyahu was Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni from Olmert's Kadima faction, with 39 points, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak with 29.

About half of the general public wants Barak, the head of Labour, Olmert's main partner, to quit the coalition, according to both polls. In Yedioth, Labour voters overwhelmingly wanted him to stay.

Regarding the Winograd committee itself, Yedioth found that some 53 per cent of the public expressed faith in the committee while 29 per cent that they do not have any confidence in it.

Both polls interviewed slightly more than 490 people and had margins of error around 4.5 per cent.

The final report, released some 18 months after the conclusion of the 2006 war, found "great and grave faults" in the decision-making of both the government and military, but did not draw "personal conclusions" or recommend the resignation of Olmert or others.

While Olmert said he was relieved by the report's findings, but that his government was working to rectify mistakes found by Winograd, Netanyahu has called on him to resign and for new elections.