Photo: AP
Prime Minister Sharon is set to target new voting blocs
Photo: AP
Sharon to seek Arab votes in general elections
As the election season heats up, Sharon's new party, Kadima, will seek to recruit the Arab sector, alongside kibbutzim traditionally affiliated with Labor
Ariel Sharon's Kadima party is interested in enlisting Arab mayors and Kibbutz members in the run up to the 2006 general elections.


Ynet has learned that Sharon's aides have, in recent days, held talks with at least three Arab regional council heads, and have invited them to a meeting of regional leaders to be held on Tuesday at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.


A Kadima party source also said that negotiations are taking place with four Knesset Members – two from Likud, one from Labor, and another from the Shinui party – on their possible move to the new party.


Sharon's party views the enlistment of Arab sector members as a high priority goal, and sees them as a bridgehead to obtaining the support of a sector which has traditionally backed Labor and the Left-wing parties.


'My heart is with Sharon'


Regional Councils Chairman Shmuel Rifman has recently joined the Kadima Party. "The heart says to go with Sharon because that's what the country needs today," he told Ynet.


Rifman's kibbutz is traditionally affiliated with the Labor party.


"In recent days, I received many requests from Kibbutz and moshav members, including people from the kibbutzim of the Hashomer Hatzair movement, who have asked me to position myself within the new party," he added.


Regional Council Head of the Negev community of Lehavim, Eli Levi, who announced at the start of the week that he would support Sharon, is helping to organize the meeting of council heads in Jerusalem, which is expected to see 30 heads, some of them Labor party members, attend.


Meanwhile, the Labor party is working tirelessly to recruit its own support base. Newly elected leader Amir Peretz is continuing to work around the clock ahead of the general elections. This week, Labor is expected to launch its official elections campaign platform.


Labor's revolution


The campaign slogan has yet to be finalized, but may include the word "revolution," in reference to the slogan coined by Peretz in his speeches, in which he said: "Who is joining me in the revolution."


Labor party sources report that hundreds of students and academics are planning on coming on board with Labor, since the enlistment of Professor Avishai Bravermann to the party.


On Thursday, Peretz met with Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, one of the most prominent figures within the Labor party. Rabin-Pelosoff has been a firm supporter of Peretz's primaries candidacy.


Shinui is expected to kick off its own preemptive elections campaign with bus advertisements across the country. They will carry the slogan: "Shinui. Rule of law," and "Shinui – the home of the secular and middle classes."


Its campaign will focus on combating corruption.


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report


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