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Poll: Israel's Likud Party Facing Election Debacle

A new opinion poll in Israel shows the country's ruling Likud party would suffer a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections scheduled for March.

The survey, published in Wednesday's edition of the daily Yedioth Ahronot newspaper, indicates the right-wing Likud would win only 10 seats in the Knesset, down from its current total of 40.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new centrist Kadima party would gain 34 seats, while Labor would win 27 seats.

The poll's release comes hours before elder statesman Shimon Peres is expected to announce whether he will bolt from the Labor party and join forces with the prime minister.

Mr. Sharon quit Likud last week because he faced a revolt from right-wing deputies who opposed his decision to withdraw Israel from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Peres supported Mr. Sharon's disengagement plan.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.