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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04TELAVIV2421 2004-04-28 15:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

POLLING LULL AND ANTI-WITHDRAWAL DEMONSTRATION

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 002421 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL KWBG IS GAZA DISENGAGEMENT GOI INTERNAL ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: POLLING LULL AND ANTI-WITHDRAWAL DEMONSTRATION
SPUR SPECULATION ON REFERENDUM RESULTS

REF: TEL AVIV 2382

Classified By: Political Counselor Norm Olsen for reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d).



1. (C) The brief vacuum of polling results, with private
and public polls of Likud voters not expected until April 29
and 30 respectively, and the large-scale April 27
anti-disengagement demonstration in Gaza, have increased
speculation by media pundits and politicos about whether PM
Sharon's disengagement plan will squeak by in the May 2
referendum. While back-to-back holidays of Israeli
Remembrance Day and Independence Day April 26-27 provided
ample public speaking opportunities for Sharon to boost the
plan, they also provided the sentimental and nationalistic
backdrop and possible motivating force for the 70,000-person
anti-disengagement demonstration that took place in the Gaza
settlement of Gush Katif. While many of the demonstrators
were families combining a withdrawal protest with their
Independence Day holiday enjoyment, and most were reportedly
not Likud voters, the optics of the event, replete with the
appearances of Ministers Natan Sharansky and Effi Eitam,
highlighted the level of settler support.



2. (C) Four days before the referendum, media speculation,
last week's narrowing polls, a vocal and motivated
anti-disengagement campaign, and the absence of key
ministerial support in the disengagement campaign, have some
withdrawal supporters concerned. D/PM Ehud Olmert told the
Ambassador at an Independence Day event that he is worried
about the referendum. He said that the problem was two-fold:
Withdrawal opponents are more likely than supporters to
actually get out and vote, and Sharon got a very late start
in launching his campaign, opting to wait until the end of
Passover to mobilize. Disengagement supporters reportedly
will spend the coming days convincing Likud members to show
up at the polls, and reports say Sharon himself will be
calling numerous Likud Central Committee members to enlist
their support.



3. (C) Former Labor PM Ehud Barak, who was at the same
event as Olmert, reportedly told Olmert that while he hopes
the referendum passes, he wonders why Sharon has bitten off
"only one-tenth of the loaf." Barak noted that Sharon's plan
does not go as far as Olmert's own withdrawal proposal. If
the GOI must give up land to protect Israel, he asked, why
not be honest with the citizenry and acknowledge that the
country cannot hold on to all of the territory it now holds.
(Note: Labor leader Shimon Peres reportedly offered Sharon
the following advice: Take the disengagement plan to the
Cabinet and the Knesset even if the plan is defeated in the
referendum.)



4. (C) Comment: This week's much-awaited polls will either
bring a sigh of relief or heightened concern to PM Sharon and
his supporters. If the poll numbers continue to turn against
him, Sharon will likely tie the referendum more firmly to a
vote of confidence in his leadership, and more strongly
stress both the need for his plan and the consequences of
rejecting U.S. support. The opposition campaign will
continue to deploy thousands of activists to rally Likud
voters against the plan and continue to warn of what they say
is the potential for polling fraud by disengagement
supporters.

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