Jerusalem (Jun. 25)
Never before have Israelis been so deeply involved in ###tion campaign as they are in the current political struggle which will end Tuesday when the voters decide whether Premier Menachem Begin will get a second term or choose instead Labor party leader Shimon Peres to succeed Begin.
Not only has there been unprecedented violence at election rallies but the election has become the major focus of public attention. At every street corner, in every work place, on every social occasion, Israelis engage in heated debates on the merits of the two main rivals and in intensive speculation over the outcome of the elections. The general feeling, supported by election polls, is that the smaller parties will be the main losers, with a clear trend of choice between the two big parties.
Peres appeared yesterday jointly with Yitzhak Rabin in the election headquarters of the party in the Deborah hotel in Tel Aviv, with both men calling for unity, in an attempt to repair the image of the continued rivalry between the two. Journalists who attended the event, expected Peres to pull a last minute surprise (“like appointing Rabin as a candidate for Deputy Premier”), but that did not happen.
LIKUD PROMOTES SETTLEMENTS AS VOTING NEARS
The Likud launched an intensive effort to inaugurate new settlements in the West Bank. Two have already been inaugurated, and another two were to be inaugurated tomorrow.
Some 10,000 attended today the laying of the cornerstone in the religious town of “Emmanuel” in Samaria. The town will be populated mainly with Agudat Yisrael people.
In an effort to win back votes from the Likud and the Tehiya, the National Religious Party issued today a political document, which is more hawkish than the party’s previous platform. The NRP calls for moving to act “within the framework of the peace agreement to leave the Jewish settlements in Sinai under Israeli sovereignty.” The settlements are to be evacuated by April, 1982, under the peace agreement. The NRP document also urges the imposition of Israeli law on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and on Israeli citizens within the area of the proposed autonomy.
PARTIES POLISH ELECTION MACHINERY
The parties made special efforts, as the week drew to its end, to create efficient machinery on election day, to make sure that supporting voters would come and vote. The Labor Alignment was expected to activate some 700,000 workers on election day, mostly volunteers from the Kibbutzim and Moshavim, as well as hundreds of vehicles which would transport voters. The Likud election machinery is more modest, with approximately 45,000 workers on election day. Israel police launched operation “Mo’ed 81,” an unprecedented deployment of policemen throughout the country, to ensure trouble free elections. (Mo’ed is Hebrew for ‘time’.) There will be no leaves, and some 6,000 civil defense soldiers were recruited for reserve duty on election day, to assist the police. A force of 18,000 men altogether will supervise the elections.