NU-NRP reaches out to secular voters

Elon: "If we will be a sectoral party, then we have failed in our task."

Attempting to broaden its appeal, the National Union-National Religious Party reached out to secular Israeli voters on Tuesday, promoting its joint right-wing list as the best choice for the nationalist camp. "If we will be a sectoral party, then we have failed in our task," party leader Benny Elon said at a Jerusalem press conference which featured several secular former Likud, Labor and Kadima supporters who have jumped political ship to the National Union-NRP. Recent public opinion polls indicate that the National Union-NRP will win between eight and 10 seats in next week's elections, significantly lower than the 15 seats that party officials had been hoping to get following the long-planned merger of the two parties. The National Union-NRP is competing with both Likud and Avigdor Lieberman's increasingly-popular Israel Beiteinu for the right-wing vote. "If you're voting, at least vote for those people who are honest with themselves, and who have a conscience," said Eli Hadad, a former Likud activist from Ma'aleh Adumim who endorsed the National Union-NRP at the event. The press conference mirrored a similar event held by Kadima earlier this month which featured religious Israelis who said they were voting for Kadima. Speaking under a banner that said "I am secular and voting National Union-NRP," Elon cast doubt on public opinion polls which are forecasting a landslide Kadima victory, saying that a right-wing nationalist government would, in fact, come to power. The party's attempt to reach out to the secular public was somewhat blunted by the fact that Aryeh Eldad is its only secular candidate with a realistic chance of entering the Knesset, although three secular candidates are in the party's top 20 slots. Eldad said that internal party opinion polls indicated that about 40 percent of its supporters are not religious.