kadima 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Kadima intends to begin an aggressive campaign attacking the Likud and Labor on Sunday, after the party fell in the polls for the fourth consecutive week.
A Smith Institute poll conducted for The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday revealed that Kadima had fallen to a new low of 36-37 Knesset seats, a loss of two mandates in the last week and four in the past three weeks.
The poll found that the Likud and Labor had not gained at Kadima's expense. The Likud remained at 17 seats, despite Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's success in changing the party's election system. Labor continued its slight downward slide to 16-17 seats.
Kadima chairman Ehud Olmert responded to the polls in a press conference at Beit Hanassi, even though President Moshe Katsav asked that political questions not be asked.
"It's right that in certain polls there has been a little downturn, but I am sure that no one doubts who will form the next government," Olmert said.
In a press conference set for Sunday, Kadima strategists Lior Chorev, Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad will reveal the party's television commercials that will present Netanyahu as a man who cannot handle pressure. People who worked closely with Netanyahu when he was prime minister will speak in the commercials about his failure in pressure situations, like the failed assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
"We will remind the public who the Bibi is that Netanyahu wants people to forget," Chorev said. "The downturn in the polls was expected after the wild attacks of Likud and Labor on Kadima. But now that the state comptroller dismissed reports against Olmert as lies, we will undoubtedly go up again as the Likud did in the last election."
The top 51 Kadima candidates will meet at Mini-Israel near Latrun on Friday for a day of workshops with Olmert and other top Kadima officials. Campaign chairman Tzahi Hanegbi will update the candidates about the campaign's progress and the ministers will talk about what is going on in their ministries.
Olmert met on Thursday with Shas chairman Eli Yishai and the two reportedly discussed the possibility of Shas joining a Kadima-led coalition. With Israel Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism already considered a lock to join the coalition, Kadima officials said that if the party wins the March 28 election, a coalition will already be formed by Pessah, which starts April 12.
Former coalition chairman Gideon Sa'ar on Thursday expressed confidence that the Right would be able to obtain the 61 mandates necessary to prevent Kadima from forming a coalition. Likud MK Silvan Shalom said he believed the Likud and Labor should join together to block Kadima, but Netanyahu rejected the idea.
According to the Post poll, the Right will have some 50 MKs in the next Knesset: 17 from the Likud, 9-10 each from the National Union-National Religious Party and Shas, 8 from Israel Beiteinu and 5-6 from UTJ.
The Left will have about 30: 16-17 from Labor, 4-5 from Meretz and 8-9 from Arab parties. The percentage of undecided voters rose significantly from 10 percent to 14%. The poll sampled a representative 501 people of voting age. The margin of error was 3.5%.