Former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent Sunday morning touring Likud branches in Holon, Bat Yam, Ramle and Lod and calling upon his supporters to vote in Monday's Likud primary.
Polls showing he would easily win the primary should not be taken seriously and voter turnout could decide the race, he told party activists in Holon.
"The polls will only be proven correct if we bring the people out to vote," Netanyahu said. "It can be close or not. It all depends on bringing people to the polling stations. We will have to fight for every vote."
He was received warmly by his supporters, who chanted slogans about him being the next prime minister. But one man in Lod heckled Netanyahu and accused him of harming the poor with his economic policies.
Following the tour, Netanyahu went to his office in Tel Aviv
to prepare for Monday and call supporters and reporters. In a candid moment, he said in an interview with Channel 2 that the biggest mistake of his tenure as finance minister was "going too far with economic steps that harmed the weakest sectors of the population.
Netanyahu's associates said the keys to victory on Monday were to be consistent in ideology, avoid mistakes and get as many supporters out to vote as possible. They expressed confidence, but said Netanyahu had to defeat a coalition of people working against him, including people from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party
"We are up against Omri [Sharon]'s machine, Silvan [Shalom]'s money and Mofaz's dropouts," a source in Netanyahu's campaign said.
Netanyahu's strategists said if he emerged victorious on Monday, he would start working immediately on a campaign to defeat Sharon and Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz
. They said the key to defeating Sharon would be to force him to reveal his true intentions on diplomatic issues.
"We need to appeal to a broader public while still sticking to the broader principles, like insisting on reciprocity with the Palestinians," a Netanyahu strategist said. "Sharon has been getting by on obfuscation for too long. He can't get by on obfuscation forever. Sooner or later the truth has to come out."
If Netanyahu wins, he is also expected to call upon former minister Benny Begin
and former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon
to join the Likud.
|Binyamin Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv in 1949 and grew up in Jerusalem. He spent his high-school years in the United States.
Returning to Israel in 1967, he served as an officer in an elite anti-terror unit in the IDF. He received a BSc in architecture and an MSc in management studies from MIT, and studied political science at Harvard University.
In 1982, he was a member of the first delegation to the talks on strategic cooperation between Israel and the US and served as ambassador to the United Nations for four years.
In 1988 he was elected to the 12th Knesset as a Likud member and was appointed deputy foreign minister. As chairman of the Likud Party since 1993, he was elected prime minister in May 1996.
Following his defeat in the 1999 elections, he resigned from the chairmanship of the Likud and from the 15th Knesset.
In November 2002 Netanyahu was appointed foreign minister. He is the author of several books and the father of three children.|