Two days before elections, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threw his support solidly behind the Kadima party's candidate for prime minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. It was the first time Olmert had publicly supported any candidate for the elections of the 18th Knesset.
"I won't surprise anyone if I say that I support Kadima and hope that Tzipi Livni will be elected as the 18th prime minster of Israel," Olmert said, a week after he alluded to his support for his colleague by stating his support for a party led by a woman.
"I am using this opportunity because I think it's important for the prime minister to announce who he is supporting… Tzipi Livni is the candidate who can lead Israel. She has wisdom and sensitivity," he said.
Olmert subtly criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Livni's rivals from Labor and Likud, hinting at their past failures. "I know the candidates from all of the parties. I have years of experience in politics. Others candidates had the opportunity and they didn't stand the test."
At a Kadima elections rally in Tel Aviv, Livni chose to endorse her party, rather than herself.
"Kadima has proven that in difficult days or days of despair, even during existential struggles; everyone is allowed to dream and replace despair with hope. We've shown that security does not belong to the Right and that peace does not belong to the Left," she said.
"The race is close, but the goal is attainable," Livni added.
Livni at Kadima rally (Photo: David Azoulay)
Meanwhile, at a Sunday conference held by his party in Haifa, summing up the elections campaign, Netanyahu had his own criticism, about Livni and Kadima.
"Livni ran away from leadership and responsibility," he said, noting that she had been absent during a recent vote on approval for a new prime minister's residence. The opposition leader had censured the investment in the new residence, saying the hundreds of millions could be better spent elsewhere.
"We need a new prime minister, not a new prime minister's residence," he said.
Regarding his own plans, he said "first I will add the nationalist camp, but that will not be enough. We are facing Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah. We are facing a huge, unprecedented global crisis and because of this we need all parts of the nation."
"We were promised doves of peace in the Negev. Instead, millions of people have been pushed into rocket range, courtesy of Kadima. Livni, due to difficulty, unwillingness and lack of talent, refuses to acknowledge reality and acknowledge her mistakes, instead insisting on continuing a policy of escape," added Likud Knesset candidate Benny Begin, at the conference.