(VIDEO) Four weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell into unconsciousness, the party he founded, Kadima, presented its list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The names of the first 50 candidates were read out, as the Kadima members took their place on the stage in Jerusalem to the sounds of applause from the audience.
Video: Eitan Ortal
Haim Ramon, who could not attend due to a recent heart attack, received especially warm applause, as did Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres.
The atmosphere in the conference hall in Jerusalem was warm and pleasant as polls continue to smile on the new party, which is projected to win between 40 and 50 mandates.
Acting Prime Minister and party head Ehud Olmert addressed the conference, saying, "I am grateful, and I am moved to the bottom of my soul, as I am sure all of the important and impressive people who make up the Kadima list for the 17th Knesset are as well," he said.
"Life in the State of Israel presents to us daily challenges and difficult and complex experiences. Israel is a strong country, we are not alarmed by external events, nor by events in recent developments," he added.
"The people sitting here in this hall will have to lead the State of Israel to two central destinations," continued Olmert.
"First – the shaping of Israel's permanent borders as a state with a clear and solid Jewish majority; Second – an in depth, seriously, responsible treatment of the social gaps in this country," said Olmert.
'Kadima represents the majority'
The acting prime minister addressed the circumstances of the creation of his new party. "Kadima was born out of a need for a large, central and significant Israeli movement to express the position of most of the citizens. It was born out a feeling of responsibility by its founders, and out of full faith in the future of Israel as a country, state, and national home. But above all, Kadima was born from the determination, bravery, and leadership of its founder, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon," Olmert told the audience.
'Kadima the voice of every Israeli who desires calm and peace.' Olmert (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
"Here, today in Jerusalem, our united capital, we commit ourselves to be deserving of public faith, to lead from a sense of mission and faith, and to ensure the future for the State of Israel, us, and our children after us. Kadima is the political and public expression of the feeling of the majority of Israeli citizens. It is a national, centrist movement, searching for a partner in Israeli society, and working towards establishing a bridge of understanding and compromise among all segments of society. Kadima is the expression of the need to create a new national agreement." Olmert said.
"It is the voice of every Israeli who desires calm and peace, but always prioritizes the security of Israel and her citizens above all else. Kadima will respect the rights of minorities and ensure their ability to run their lives as equal citizens in this country. Kadima is committed to reforms in the education system and in the government. There is no list like this in any other party, nor can there be, because Kadima represents a new hope for Israel. We will ensure that Israel is the one which shapes its future, we will ensure that Israel goes forward responsibly and with good judgment," he added.
Speaking about Prime Minister Sharon, Olmert said, "The man who shaped the face of the State of Israel in recent years, the man who established and founded the Kadima movement, is continuing to bravely fight his illness, and all our hearts are with him. We will continue together in the mission Sharon has placed on our shoulders. I, together with you, will continue to fill the place of Ariel Sharon with pride, with a feeling of responsibility, and a deep commitment to complete what Sharon hoped and planned to carry out in the coming years."
These are Kadima's top 10 spots on the list:
1. Ehud Olmert
2. Shimon Peres
3. Tzipi Livni
4. Meir Sheetrit
5. Avi Dichter
6. Marina Solodkin
7. Haim Ramon
8. Shaul Mofaz
9. Tzachi Hanegbi
10. Abraham Hirschson