New Israeli public-opinion surveys show Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party recovering its lead over the opposition Labor party ahead of upcoming elections -- as new violence claims at least 13 lives in Israel and the occupied territories.
Surveys published Monday (by the dailies Yedioth Ahronoth and Ma'ariv) show the scandal-plagued Likud party winning as many as 33 seats in the 120-member Parliament. Labor slipped to 20 seats. The Israeli elections will be held on January 28th.
Mr. Sharon has been trying to clear himself of allegations that he and his two sons accepted a campaign-related loan for one-and-half-million dollars from a South African businessman. An investigation has begun in Israel and South Africa's Justice Ministry announced Monday that it would launch its own investigation into the matter.
The developments came as new violence claimed at least 13 lives overnight in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. Eleven of the victims were Palestinians, including two teenagers.
Meanwhile, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament -- Ahmed Qureia -- was barred from traveling to a session of the legislators in the West Bank town of Ramallah because of Israeli travel restrictions against Palestinians.