JERUSALEM (Oct. 12)
The Central Election Committee gave its formal approval Wednesday to 27 party lists that will compete in the Knesset elections on Nov. 1.
The fate of a 28th, Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, is in the hands of the High Court of Justice.
The court is hearing arguments on an appeal of the election committee’s decision last week to disqualify Kach from running.
Kahane’s faction was barred from the election on grounds that it is racist and opposed to the democratic nature of the state. The High Court opened hearings Tuesday and was to resume them Thursday.
Likud, meanwhile, is beginning to show internal stresses and strains as the fiercely fought election campaign enters the final stretch.
Its conduct has been criticized by two of the party’s most powerful men, Housing Minister David Levy and Commerce and Industry Minister Ariel Sharon, both of the Herut wing.
Considering their political clout, neither has done much campaigning. Levy has yet to appear on the nightly Likud television broadcasts. On Tuesday night, he publicly derided the party’s campaign jingles and other gimmicks.
Sharon flew off to Hungary on Wednesday for a weeklong visit. He had returned only a few days before from a trip to Bulgaria. His supporters are increasingly critical of the Likud campaign chairman, Moshe Arens, a close ally of Premier Yitzhak Shamir.
LIKUD STRATEGY CRITICIZED
They charge that Shamir-Arens backers, such as Benjamin Begin and Herut Knesset members Ronni Milo, Dan Meridor and Ehud Olmert, are promoting themselves to the exclusion of the party’s other factions.
There has been criticism, as well, of overall campaign strategy. This prompted Shamir to issue a statement Tuesday night in praise of the campaign’s substance and the way it is being conducted.
A spokesman for the prime minister said he was pleased with the party’s performance so far.
The polls predict a close race between Likud and Labor. Some political observers attribute Sharon’s uncharacteristic reticence to a desire to distance himself from the campaign if Likud fares worse than expected.
His lieutenants deny this. They say the former defense minister and Yom Kippur War hero simply dislikes set-piece performances in front of cameras. He prefers large public meetings where he can speak extemporaneously, they say.
Much of Likud’s time this past week was devoted to condemnations of the rowdyism that has characterized the campaign to date.
The party rejected charges that it has abetted and even instigated violence against Labor politicians. Likud activists charged that Labor’s complaints are themselves a form of incitement.
Of the 27 parties now on the ballot, 14 are new ones, seeking Knesset representation for the first time. The Election Committee has approved code letters for each of them.
When voters enter the booths on Nov. 1, they will select the ballots with the code of the party they support.