Katz stays in the race, gears up for 'marathon'

yisrael katz 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yisrael katz 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
While his opponents scoured the country on Sunday hugging and kissing supporters, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, running for the Likud chairmanship, stayed close to home, spending most of the day before his party's primary working at the office. Katz, contending for the top Likud spot against former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and right-wing activist Moshe Feiglin, has scored low in the polls, which show him coming in last with a little under 5 percent of the vote. Katz's day got off to a slow start. After attending the cabinet meeting in the morning, he arrived at his bureau near Rishon Lezion and stayed until the evening. He then attended a private, nonpolitical event in Rehovot, his associates said. In comparison, Shalom visited the Kotel in the morning and prayed for victory, while Netanyahu crossed the country and met with activists in Lod and Holon. Despite his seemingly easy and politically light day, Katz's associates assured The Jerusalem Post he was staying in the race. Likud MK Haim Katz, a member of Katz's strategic team, said the minister had his full backing despite the fact that his chances of winning were close to nil. "This is not about winning," he said. "This is also not a sprint, but is a marathon race. If [Labor Party chairman Amir] Peretz is ready to run for prime minister, then so is Katz." Throughout the day, Katz repeated his campaign slogan, claiming he was the only candidate capable of rehabilitating the Likud and leading it to victory in the general election. "I am the true follower of [former prime minister] Menachem Begin," he said in a radio interview. "And I am the only one who can lead the Likud to victory." On Monday, Katz will cast his vote in Kibbutz Hazav near his home in the southern village of Kfar Ahim. Then he will head off to the center of the country for meetings with activists and end his day in Beersheba where he will await the results surrounded by supporters.
  • Yisrael Katz was born in 1955 in Ashkelon.
  • He holds a BA from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he also attended graduate studies.
  • A resident of Moshav Kfar Ahim, he is an agriculturist by profession.
  • He joined the Knesset in 1998.
  • In February 2003 he was appointed minister of agriculture and rural development.
  • He is married and has two children.