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(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Likud paid in advance for hundreds of billboards nationwide to launch a campaign Sunday attacking Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, but it decided to freeze the negative campaign when the operation in the Gaza Strip began.
Instead, the space will be used for a campaign saluting the army and inhabitants of Sderot and Ashkelon, the party announced Monday.
The "rally around the flag" campaign was initiated at the advice of the Likud's American strategists, Bill Knapp and Josh Isay.
The slogan on the billboards will now read "Strong together - The Likud with the IDF and the residents of the South."
It replaces the positive and negative slogans the Likud had intended to use, such as "The Likud, because there's a country to run" and "Tzipi Livni: It's out of her league."
Likud officials complained that the party began its billboard campaign nearly a month after Kadima and Labor, due to internal disputes about the slogans, and by the time the campaign was ready, the war broke out before the posters could go up.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave Netanyahu advance notice on Friday that the operation would begin the following day. Sources close to the Likud leader said that had he known about it one day earlier, the money for the billboards could have been saved.
Kadima strategists mocked the new Likud campaign and expressed satisfaction that the campaign attacking Livni was put on hold.
"We are glad that the Likud eventually realized that it was incorrect to attack Tzipi Livni," a Kadima strategist said. "Praising the IDF is nice, but whoever feels it in their heart doesn't need to say it on a sign."
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