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SHARON BOOSTS LEAD

Kadima & Labor Gain, Likud Slides Further

Prof. Avishai Braverman: 'Amir Peretz Is Not A Comunist'

Prof. Avishai Braverman

In the Israeli election race Sharon and Labor continue to soar, the Likud drops further. Labor party leader Amir Peretz has also acquired a glowing endorsement from Prof. Avishai Braverman , the president of Ben-Gurion University who has defended the economic policies of Peretz. David Essing has an update report and this background interview with the BBC Radio 's 'Pods And Blogs' .

Professor Avishai Braverman, the highly touted President of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, has joined the Labor party. At a news conference with Peretz, Braverman declared that the Labor leader is not a communist but resembles more of a Tony Blair or Bill Clinton. Braverman, an internationally renowned economist, is a big asset. He counters Saharan and Likud critics who charge that Peretz is an old die-hard socialist who will sweep Israel back into the past. The latest polls indicate that Peretz continue to be the main challenger to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Kadima party. Sharon has gone up from 30 to 34 seats while Labor is has also risen from 26 to 28. However, the Likud meltdown continues. It has slipped from 15 to 13 in the polls. Likud front-runner is maintaining his lead with a 46% to 17% for Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and MK Uzi Landau trail with 14% each among Likud voters.

It is of course early days, but if the trend holds up, Sharon and Labor could reach the magic number of 61 seats to form a new coalition government after the March 28th election.

David Essing

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