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Defying polls, Yacimovich predicts Labor can beat Likud
By LAHAV HARKOV AND JOANNA PARASZCZUK
05/04/2012
Ruling party rallies behind Netanyahu ahead of convention; Kadima MKs deny rumors they’re joining other parties
 
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich declared on Thursday that she could lead her party to defeat Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, as other parties worked to prepare their candidate lists for a national election expected to take place on September 4.

According to Yacimovich, the vote will be especially ideological, and the majority of the electorate favors Labor’s social-democratic views.

“Netanyahu was not chosen by God; he will not reign forever, and we cannot give up on the hope to replace him,” she said.

Recent surveys have shown Labor as the second-largest party. According to a Dahaf Institute poll, Labor will get 17 seats in the next Knesset. A Teleseker poll published in Ma’ariv on Thursday showed Labor with 18. Both polls put Likud in the lead with 31 MKs.

Yacimovich pointed out that a year ago, her party was polling at under 10 seats, saying that many voters may return to Labor, and its meteoric rise could continue.

“We will not give up on the aspiration to replace the most capitalist prime minister in Israel’s history,” she said.

During last summer’s Labor Party leadership race, Yacimovich faced criticism for saying the opposite – that the Labor faction was not large enough for its leader to be a contender for prime minister.

If Labor does not prove more popular than Likud, Yacimovich said, the party would be willing to join the coalition, should it “make a significant socioeconomic change and start the diplomatic process.”

Without those changes, she said, Labor would continue to sit in the opposition.

“The opposition isn’t Siberia,” Yacimovich quipped.

Meanwhile, the Likud is showing a united front behind Netanyahu ahead of the party’s convention set for Sunday.

Usually, the Likud convention elects a president, as well as the heads of the party’s institutions. Netanyahu has decided to run for Likud convention president for the first time, and was challenged by Government Services Minister Michael Eitan and MK Danny Danon.

However, the Likud announced on Thursday that all of the party institutions’ leaders will remain, and Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon will remain Likud convention president.

The convention will determine a date for the party primary to choose the order of its list of MK candidates. Likud sources say the vote is expected to take place in early June.

Kadima continues to fight rumors that its MKs are fleeing for greener pastures, in light of polls showing the party, which now has 28 lawmakers, getting as few as 10 seats in the next Knesset.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said in a radio interview on Thursday that Kadima MKs had asked to run with her party, but she refused to give names.

MK Shlomo Molla, one of Kadima’s most outspokenly left-wing MKs, denied that he plans to jump ship, saying that he will remain in Kadima and is confident of his position in the party.

“Everything else is a made-up story, speculation and an attempt to generate headlines, and I am not responsible for that,” he said.

However, MK Nino Abesadze, also from Kadima, who is politically like-minded, did not deny talks with Gal-On, saying only that this was the first time a reporter asked her about Meretz.

When asked whether she was committed to Kadima, Abesadze said: “No comment.”

Also on Thursday, the Registrar of Political Parties publicized Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party’s regulations, founders and goals.

The party’s regulations include a clause keeping Lapid as leader until after the 20th Knesset, which could be as long as eight years. In addition, Lapid alone can decide whether Yesh Atid will join the government coalition.

Among the party’s 100 founders are poet Roni Somek; Olympic judoka Yoel Razvozov, who is also a member of Netanya’s city council; and Menahem Tzruya, the principal of the Naamat Technological High School in Jaffa.

Other founders of Yesh Atid include Lapid’s wife, journalist Lihi Lapid; his mother, Shulamit Lapid, an author; and his son Yoav Lapid, as well as what appears to be several of his son’s friends, as they live in the same neighborhood and were born in 1987, as was Yoav Lapid. Lapid’s makeup artist and the band leader from his talk show also signed the list.

Yesh Atid said that the founders are not necessarily on the party’s candidates list for the Knesset.

The goals listed by the party include “changing the order of priorities in the country, emphasizing education, housing, health, transportation and policing.”

Yesh Atid also seeks to change the system of government, draft a constitution, require all students to study the Education Ministry’s core curriculum and fight corruption.

The party also aims to work toward a peace treaty that will bring two states for two nations, while protecting large Israeli settlement blocs.

Meanwhile, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel called on the Central Elections Committee to insist that Lapid cut his ties with Yediot Aharonot, saying that his relationship with the paper could constitute an indirect violation of election and party financing laws.

Lapid publishes a weekly column in one of Yediot’s weekend supplements, for which the forum said he receives a fee.

In a letter to Central Elections Committee chairman Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, the NGO’s attorney Avital Tzachor said Lapid uses his column to “propagate his political, economic and social platforms, and for election campaigning.”

Election campaigning is regulated by the 1959 Knesset Elections Law (Propaganda Methods), which deals with limitations placed on parties in terms of the propaganda they are allowed to publish in the 90-day run-up to elections, and includes all types of party messages, including advertising.

“Consequently, given the purpose underlying the Elections Law, the reality that Lapid continues to publish a weekly column in Israel’s main newspaper – and which covers his political doctrine – is one that raises concern about violating the law,” Tzachor said.

According to Tzachor, the column is effectively an advertising campaign, and politicians from other factions would have to pay a large fee for a similar campaign in the high-circulation Hebrew daily.

By law, parties are not allowed to publish more than 10,000 inches of advertisements in newspapers over the 90 days before elections, and all advertisements must bear the name and address of the person who ordered it, or the relevant parliamentary faction or list.

The forum also argued that by allowing Lapid to publish his column, and promote his party platform, Yediot Aharonot may also be in indirect violation of the Party Financing Law (1973).
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