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March 29, 1996 - Image 80

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.




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BIBI page 79

sistent, corrosive foe of the vain,
Moroccan-born former construc-
tion worker.
During their 1993 Likud lead-
ership contest, Mr. Netanyahu
hinted that Mr. Levy was behind
an attempt to blackmail him with
pictures of an illicit love affair.
Typically, the thrice-married Mr.
Netanyahu went public, admit-
ting on prime-time television that
he had cheated on his latest wife,
Sarah, an ex-El Al stewardess.
As leader of the opposition, Mr.
Netanyahu took a predictably
hard line. Despite the 1993 Oslo
agreement, he argued, the Pales-
tinians had not changed their
spots. Their long-term goal was
still to destroy Israel. Yassir
Arafat remained a terrorist.
Although he never accused
then Prime Minister Yitzhak Ra-
bin of treason in so many words,
most observors agree that he did
not do enough to dampen the in-
citement that made Mr. Rabin's
assassination possible. Until re-
cently, that looked as if it would
cost him dearly among the pivotal
young and middle-of-the-road vot-
But then the Hamas bombers
shifted the emotional focus and
Israeli voters remained sceptical
ofYassir Arafat's credentials as a
Mr. Netanyahu is picking the
scab of that scepticism. "What
Israelis were led to believe, false-
ly," he told foreign correspondents,
"was that you could somehow
have these two separate and in-
dependent processes. You'd have
a movement towards peace and
simultaneously, but on a separate
course, you would have the battle
against terrorism.
"That's not the way you can
proceed ... We will continue [the
peace process], responsibly, care-
fully and with full attention to the
provisions of security."
Despite such rhetoric, Israel's
political earth is not going through

major shifts for Mr. Netanyahu.
While Peres had a pre-Hamas
bombs lead of 15 per cent in mid-
February, polls published in the
mass-circulation Ma'ariv and
Yediot Alwronot after the Feb. 8
deal between Likud and Tsomet
showed no gain. And last week-
end (March 22), after David
Levy's high-profile return to the
fold, Mr. Peres's small lead over
Mr. Netanyahu had actually
grown a fraction.
Ma'ariv's Gallup survey put the
incumbent five points ahead, with
48 percent to Mr. Netanyahu's 43
(8 percent undecided). Yediot's poll
by Dr Mina Zemach registered 49
per cent for Mr. Peres to 47 for Mr.
Given that both polls admit to
a 4 percent margin of error, every-
thing hinges on the campaign.
Shimon Peres does have a no-
torious credibility problem. But
for the first time in the five elec-
tions into which he has led Labour
since 1977, his challenger has to
convince Israelis that they can
trust him. If anything, the March
20 reconciliation with Mr. Levy,
celebrated with balloons and fan-
fares like a bargain-basement Re-
publican convention, has made
his task harder.
The voters have not forgotten
the bitterness of their mutual hos-
tility. In the last Likud Govern-
ment, Mr. Levy was Foreign
Minister. Mr. Netanyahu, nomi-
nally his deputy, constantly con-
spired to undermine him. The
born-again smiles and hand-
shakes were too blatant to con-
Meanwhile, the Likud's latest
slogan is: "Peace with Ne-
tanyahu". While that's what Is-
raelis wanted to hear while in
mourning, it begs questions. Not
the least is: How will Mr. Ne-
tanyahu bring peace if, as he has
said repeatedly, he will offer no
more than the current phase of
limited self-rule? ❑

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he primaries just held by

the country's major political
parties were supposed to
revolutionize Israeli politics.
They didn't.
With very few exceptions,
those personalities who monop-
olized the spotlight beforehand
still do, and the relatively anony-
mous remain so.
Until the introduction of pri-

Nechemia Meyers writes from


maries some years ago, candidates
were chosen in ole,fashioned,
smoked-filled rooms by party boss-
es. Then one party after another
began to hold primaries in order
to make the selection process more
However, as was proven again
this year, those already holding
top positions — whether in the
government or the opposition —
are virtually the only candidates
the mass media bother to inter-
view. And outsiders, even if they

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