Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman hold a joint news conference in Jerusalem October 25, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing bloc was seen as retaining its strong lead over its rivals in January 22 snap elections, according to polls published on Friday.
Top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily predicted that the joint list of Netanyahu's Likud party and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wound win 35 of the 120 seats in parliament, compared with 37 predicted by the paper two weeks ago.
The survey of 750 people was conducted by Dahaf Polling Institute on Wednesday and Thursday.
The poll, the margin of error of which was not given, showed Netanyahu allies the ultra-Orthodox Shas unchanged from the previous survey at 11 seats, Jewish Home taking 11, up from 10, and United Torah Judaism securing six, compared with five previously.
Overall, the rightwing/religious bloc was seen winning a majority, with around 65 seats.
The centre and leftist parties still trailed, although HaTnuah, a new party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, rose to 11 from nine in the previous survey.
The main opposition Labour party was unchanged at 19 seats and Yesh Atid, headed by former journalist Yair Lapid, slipped to eight from nine.
The centre-right Kadima party, currently the largest party in parliament with 28 MPs, is expected to be wiped out with no seats at all, Dahaf said, giving the centre-left a likely total of 42 members in the next parliament.
A poll in the rival Maariv daily by Maagar Mohot Polling Institute had better news for the Netanyahu-Lieberman alliance, although there was no indication when the survey of 501 people was conducted.
It gave them 38 seats, compared with 37 previously, and put the religious-right bloc at a combined 69.
The poll, with a margin of error of 4.5 percent, estimated the combined strength of the centre-left at 41.
Lieberman's corruption charges
The Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said on Thursday that he would decide on whether to press corruption charges against Lieberman in response to a petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government, demanding a court ruling ahead of the electoral race.
The alleged offences, according to a statement issued by the justice ministry, include "fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money laundering and tampering with a witness."
Court papers also mentioned that Lieberman was suspected of receiving "millions of dollars" between 2001 to 2008 when he served as an MP and then as a cabinet minister.
Weinstein's legal document, being sent to the High Court, could possibly force the resignation of the foreign minister who vowed to step down as both a member of the government and an MP if he is charged. This issue might be a point of weakness for the Lieberman-Netanyahu right wing coalition.
Netanyahu said earlier that he aimed to form "as wide coalition as possible" to bring stability and lead Israel in the face of the country's current challenges.
The Labour Party warned on Friday that Lieberman signifies a threat to the "Israeli democracy" if he did not resign immediately, while the leftwing Meretz party said it will go to court in a bid to force him to step aside.
The Labour Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich told Haaretz that she would not join a government with someone "sitting on the defendant's bench" and serving as a minister at the same time.