Parties gear up for list deadline

The Likud decides not to team up with NRP; MK Ratzon to head Herut.

kadima meeting 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
kadima meeting 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Perhaps the best-kept secret in Israeli politics will be revealed on Wednesday when Kadima officials ask the central elections committee at the Knesset for the letters that will represent the party on the ballots in the March 28 election. Every party is assigned one to three Hebrew letters that are printed on the ballots in large type above the party's name in small type. The letters Alef, Mem and Taf, which spell truth in Hebrew, have become part of the Labor Party's identity. Shinui, Herut and Yisrael Ba'aliya have also spelled out words with the letters. Kadima officials said on Saturday night that the letters the party would ask for would spell out a word, but they declined to reveal the secret. They said the party would not ask for the letters in the words Kadima or Sharon, so the word chosen would add a new dimension to Kadima's identity that would have to be internalized by the voters in the 51 days ahead of the election. "We decided on what letters we would request a long time ago and only three people have been let in on the secret," Kadima director-general Avigdor Yitzhaki said. The central elections committee will open its doors from 5 p.m. on Wednesday to Thursday night at midnight for parties to submit their lists and request letters on a first-come, first-serve basis. Yitzhaki said Kadima would try to be the first party in line at the Knesset. Kadima finalized its list on Tuesday, but changes will have to be made if the Jerusalem District Court decides in a hearing set for Monday to bar National Union MK Michael Nudelman from running with Kadima or if Minister-without-Portfolio Tzahi Hanegbi decides not to run while he fights charges of making illegal political appointments. The Likud, who has recently been in contact with other right-wing parties, including the NRP, to discuss the possibility of running a joint list, has decided to run alone. MK Michael Ratzon, formerly of the Likud, decided over the weekend to head the Herut List. The second slot on the list will be given to Herut leader and former MK Michael Kleiner, the third to Ethiopian activist Avraham Nagosa and the fourth may go to Likud MK Ayoub Kara. "I worked out a platform for Herut that Likudniks could vote for," Ratzon said. "Anyone who considers themselves between Likud and the National Union can vote for Herut. We have the potential to take away 30 percent of the National Union's votes and 20% of the Likud's, which would bring us six mandates." The Tafnit Party of former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, the remnants of the Shinui Party and the MKs who broke off from Shinui all have until Thursday's deadline to decide in what format to run in the election. Tafnit officials will decide on Sunday night whether to join together with Shinui MKs Ehud Rassabi and Ilan Leibovich. The haredi parties tend to submit their lists at the last moment. Reports over the weekend indicated that Shas's top five would be MKs Eli Yishai, Shlomo Benizri, Amnon Cohen and Yitzhak Cohen and newcomer Ariel Attias, and UTJ would be led by MKs Ya'acov Litzman, Avraham Ravitz, Meir Porush, Moshe Gafni and Shmuel Halpert.