Frontrunner Olmert – Kadima worried about voter complacency
One more week to go: Time is running out, polling stations will open in seven days, and local parties are making last-ditch efforts in a bid to sway more Israelis amid pre-election polls showing a record number of undecided voters
Kadima fears voter complacency, the Likud is launching a defensive battle, and Labor is relying on the bird flu outbreak.
In an effort to fight complacency, Kadima members are expected to make tens of thousands of phone calls in the coming week to those who
have visited the party's website. In addition, the party will hold 15 rallies to instruct its members on their activities during Election Day.
The party is aware of the great importance of organizing voting day itself, and on Friday Kadima's 170 local headquarters are expected to hold a joint drill simulating Election Day to be led by former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter. In addition, party leaders are planning on preparing pre-election radio and television ads that will include personal messages from party members.
Among the messages the front-runner in these elections will try to convey is the need for a massive vote for Kadima.
"Any voter that will not cast his ballot will be voting for Peretz or Netanyahu, and will prevent Kadima from implementing the moves it promised its voters. We plan to slam Amir Peretz over his responsibility for Labor's withdrawal from the government and to attack Benjamin Netanyahu for heading toward the far right," a Kadima official said.
Kadima members estimate that the party gained more votes following the Jericho operation, in which the killers of Minister Rehavam Zeevi were nabbed. But will the government's handling of the bird flu outbreak hurt the party?
"We are not dealing with interpretations now. We are focusing on conveying the messages in a bid to receive the maximal number of Knesset seats in order to establish a stable government," a party official said.
Likud: Let's surprise journalists, pollsters
Likud members are planning on focusing on those who left the party. In a big rally held in Jerusalem Monday, former Health Minister Danny Naveh described the crucial day in which "reality will hit Kadima in the face."
"Our real mission in the final stretch is to first of all talk to the Likudniks, those who voted for the Likud throughout the years," he said.
Meanwhile, party members remain optimistic, in spite of the disappointing polls.
"The media can't stand us, the people love us. What can we do? I know that a large public is angry at us for different reasons. There are almost 30 undecided Knesset seats, but one thing is sure – the Jerusalemites don’t like Olmert, and we will see it at the polls," Knesset Member Uzi Landau promised at the rally.
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said during the rally: "I ask of you to come. Let's determine the results, let's influence, and above all, let's surprise the pollsters, the journalists and the commentators. And with the help of God, we will surprise."
Labor: People should associate Olmert with bird flu
Senior Labor officials told Ynet Monday evening: "One of the things to pay attention to is the bird flu. If there has been no hysteria up to now, today hysteria has begun over this issue and it may cause a change in people's subconscious."
"We must not reject the possibility, and similar things have happened before, that as of tonight people will start associating Kadima and Olmert, who are the government, with the government's failure to deal with the bird flu," a party official said.
Labor members continued to express their optimism over the messages they have been receiving during their tours across the country and in different polls.
According to a senior party official, "the bird flu issue could have an effect. It's not that the government was not aware of the fact that it could happen. Even we in the Labor Party discussed it. Amir Peretz and those who were with him in Egypt discussed this issue with Hosni Mubarak."
Former Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon harshly slammed the government for the way it handled the bird flu outbreak.
"The government should have told the public the truth, that this is not a single incident but rather a spreading phenomenon. It has already reached the Jerusalem area, and the flu is going to hurt one of the economy's key industries," Simchon told Ynet Monday evening.
In the meantime, Labor Chairman Amir Peretz continued his tours of the country. On Monday, Peretz visited Gaza evacuees residing in tents in the Yad Mordechai Junction. The evacuees told him that they want to move to Kibbutz Palmachim, but the Disengagement Authority was preventing them from moving. Peretz promised to help them and serve as their spokesman.
The Labor party chairman, just like Netanyahu, also saw it fit to criticize the media.
"The media is dealing with the post-election coalition. Look how disrespectful they are toward the voters: Instead of delving into the real issues, they are dealing with who will serve in which ministry," he said during a rally in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv
During the day, Peretz slammed both Olmert and Netanyahu.
"Netanyahu has enslaved himself to the settlers' interests, while Olmert has enslaved himself to the millionaires' interests. Only I am committed to you, and a million of citizens who want to change the State's list of priorities," he said.
Attila Somfalvi and Ilan Marciano contributed to the report