Seven-strong Gil party says it cares only about senior citizens' rights.
By ELANA BROWNSTEIN
The Gil Pensioners' Party, whose success in Tuesday's election stunned even the most astute of analysts, says its sole concern is the rights of senior citizens. The party, which earned seven seats in the 120-seat parliament, is expected to join Ehud Olmert's government in the 17th Knesset.
"We don't deal with issues like withdrawal because the only points for our party are senior citizens' rights and social security programs and nursing homes," said Roni Shir, head of Gil's administration. "We're not concerned with borders or anything else - just with pensioner's rights."
"We care about the rights of the pensioners, social security and benefits for retirees. That's what interests us - the other issues are for later," said deputy party chairman Ya'acov Ben-Yizri.
Though the party's rookie leader and longtime friend of Ariel Sharon, 79-year-old Rafi Eitan, declined to commit to joining Olmert's new government, it is anticipated that Gil will become a member of any coalition that Olmert proposes.
"We are willing to join with everyone on the assumption that the parties will agree to give pensioners what they need," Shir said. "That and the Zionist ideals of the state of Israel are our only conditions."
Regarding political issues, Shir expects that despite differences in the opinions of party leaders, Gil will align with Olmert's Kadima Party. "We will have only one voice and it seems to me that the expectation from us is to vote for what Olmert votes," Shir said. "Don't forget that Eitan was a very close friend of Sharon's and Kadima is more or less the point of view of Eitan because it was the party of Sharon."
The party officially met for its first time Thursday for what it said was simply a "photo opportunity" for journalists, but will hold a meeting next week to discuss the "government, political views, portfolios and the other parties," Shir said.
He emphasized that the party was still shocked by Tuesday's triumph. "We knew a couple of weeks ago based on inside polls that we might get four mandates, but we never, never, never expected to get seven or eight seats," said Shir.
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