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Acting Prime Minister and Kadima chairman Ehud Olmert went out of his way to avoid looking like he was seeking to profit politically from Tuesday's successful IDF raid in Jericho, hoping that acting apolitical would help him politically, Kadima sources said Wednesday.
The events in Jericho will not be used in Kadima's campaign commercials, and Olmert took the advice of Kadima's strategists not to call a press conference to gloat over the raid's success. Instead he spoke during a visit to the police's national headquarters in Jerusalem and limited his comments to a few bombastic statements like "I demanded that not one Israeli soldier or policeman be scratched."
"We want it to be clear that Jericho was not a political act, and had we used it for commercials or called a press conference, we would have been playing into our rivals' hands," Kadima strategist Lior Chorev said.
In an effort to cultivate that professional and apolitical image, Olmert will take a few more tours to the Galilee and the Negev ahead of the election to announce matters of policy, and he will keep a full schedule of prime ministerial, and not political, events.
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu convened security officials affiliated with the party to discuss how to react to the events in Jericho. Following the meeting, he announced that one successful military maneuver would not make Olmert's policies less dangerous for the country.
"We're trying to bring the campaign back to the issue of the unilateral withdrawal Olmert is planning," a Likud spokesman said. "With all due respect to what happened in Jericho, it's over and life is back to normal. We're still fielding the only right-wing candidate for prime minister against two left-wing candidates and that works to our favor."
In an effort to reach young voters, the Likud will send MKs Limor Livnat and Moshe Kahlon to Tel Aviv pubs on Thursday night. Netanyahu will meet with Russian immigrant voters in two cities on Thursday.
Likud officials said they were concerned that the events in Jericho would help Kadima at the Likud's expense in the polls. The poll results available by press time presented mixed messages about whether this would be the case.
A Dahaf Institute poll conducted on Tuesday during the Jericho operation and on Wednesday when the results of the successful raid were known found that Kadima gained two seats to 39 and the Likud remained unchanged at 15.
A Dialogue poll broadcast on Channel 10 that was conducted entirely on Tuesday found that Kadima remained stable at 37 seats. The Likud lost one seat and Israel Beiteinu gained two in a week in which Netanyahu started a campaign against that party.
In a Geocartographic Institute poll broadcast Tuesday on Channel 1, Kadima rose four seats to 42, while a Ma'agar Muhot poll broadcast on Channel 2 at the same time found that the party remained at 36 seats. Both polls were taken before the Jericho operation's results were known.
A Smith Research poll conducted after the Jericho events will be published in The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
Netanyahu said that the polls gave him hope because of the large number of undecided voters.
"There is an amazing phenomenon that as the election date gets closer, the undecided vote keeps getting larger," he told a Petah Tikva campaign rally. "The reason why they are undecided is that they know that something is not right."
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