Likud: Olmert policies will breed terror

Strategists decide that negative campaign is best hope to win back mandates.

At the same time that a suicide bomber exploded in Tel Aviv, a few kilometers away, the Likud Party unveiled a new negative campaign, warning that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's policies would lead to more terrorist attacks. The Likud's strategists decided that attacking Olmert would be the best way for the party to rise in mandates from the 12 that a Dahaf Institute poll published in Yediot Aharonot predicted on Thursday. They said that the Likud could take away mandates currently going to Kadima by differentiating Olmert from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the eyes of the voters. The Likud's new slogan that will be featured in signs across the country will be "Kadima ('forward' in Hebrew) to 1967 lines." The campaign will feature dovish quotes uttered by Olmert, including a quote in an interview with The Jerusalem Post's Etgar Lefkovits: "Israel will need to carry out a large-scale withdrawal from the West Bank after disengagement, whether or not a viable peace partner emerges on the Palestinian side." At a press conference at the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, the head of the party's public relations team, MK Gideon Sa'ar, said that Olmert failed his first leadership test when he allowed Palestinians to vote in Jerusalem in next Wednesday's Palestinian election. "We will deal with the issues despite Kadima's attempts to silence the election," Sa'ar said. "Olmert's plan is to return to '67 lines without receiving anything in return. Only the Likud can save the country from the rise of Hamas. [Likud chairman Binyamin] Netanyahu has an advantage over Olmert when it comes to protecting the people of Israel. Olmert is no Sharon." Likud strategist Ethan Dor Shav said that focus groups have found that Kadima voters wanted Sharon, but Olmert is a non-entity for them. He said that since Sharon's stroke, Kadima voters have become less definite about voting for the party, and that by focusing on the border issue that voters care about the most, the Likud could gain 15 seats. MK Yuval Steinitz, who heads the committee drafting the Likud's diplomatic platform, outlined the platform that was revealed exclusively in The Post on Tuesday. The platform calls for negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians that would ensure that Israel will maintain secure and defensible borders, that would include the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights, an undivided Jerusalem, settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, and the hilltops overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport, the Gush Dan region and Road 443. "Kadima will withdraw to the fence, but the Likud will maintain defensible borders," Steinitz said. A Kadima spokesman responded that Kadima would not withdraw to 1967 lines and that "the Likud was turning to the Right because it is under pressure from its poor showing in the polls." Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu convened the Likud faction for a morale-boosting meeting at Likud headquarters. Over pita, humus and felafel, Netanyahu called for party unity. MK Moshe Kahlon, who is third on the Likud list, said that "the infighting in the party must stop, or the Likud would do hara-kiri."