Begin up, Sharon down in Israeli popularity poll

Prime Minister Menachem Begin's popularity in Israel has risen sharply since the beginning of the war in Lebanon, but Defense Minister Ariel Sharon's has dropped, according to an Israeli research institute poll.

The poll conducted in the third week of August showed 54 percent of the population choosing Mr. Begin as best suited to be prime minister, compared with 51.5 percent in June. Mr. Sharon's popularity dropped to 51.8 percent from the 56 percent margin he enjoyed in June. The poll said the prime minister's support still comes largely from Israel's Sephardic community - Jews who immigrated from Africa or Asia - rather than Jews of European ancestry.

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