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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04TELAVIV2458
2004-04-29 15:41:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

SHARON'S CAMPAIGN: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? LATEST

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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002458 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL KWBG IS GAZA DISENGAGEMENT GOI INTERNAL ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: SHARON'S CAMPAIGN: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? LATEST
POLLS SAY YES

REF: TEL AVIV 2421

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002458

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL KWBG IS GAZA DISENGAGEMENT GOI INTERNAL ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: SHARON'S CAMPAIGN: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? LATEST
POLLS SAY YES

REF: TEL AVIV 2421

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


1. (C) Summary. Results published on April 29 from two
major media polls show 47-percent-to-39-percent and
45-percent-to-42-percent Likud majorities against PM Sharon's
disengagement plan, reversing the earlier polls that showed
similar majorities voting in favor of the plan. Both polls
also show that a 14 percent group of fence-straddlers could
determine the plan's fate. A private poll conducted the
evening of April 26, and whose results have not yet been made
public, showed the tally at 55/38 percent against, among
Likudniks who are certain they will vote. Likud Party
activists and media pundits attribute much of Sharon's
problems to a weak campaign, punctuated by what are seen as
non-credible threats of resignation from his son and of a
doomed U.S.-Israel relationship, if the plan is defeated. As
Sharon strategizes April 29 with advisors and enters the last
72 hours before the vote, he will have to play a hard
catch-up to his opponents' three-week-long door-to-door
campaign. End summary.

--------------
Polls Show Trouble for Sharon
--------------


2. (SBU) Yedioth Ahronoth and Ma'ariv polls conducted on
April 28, show 47/39 and 45/42 percent Likud majorities
opposing Sharon's disengagement plan in the May 2 referendum.
The one hopeful sign for Sharon's plan is that both polls
show that approximately 14 percent of Likud voters are
undecided and therefore could turn the tide either way. Also
somewhat encouraging for disengagement supporters -- but less
reliable -- is a Hebrew news website poll showing that of the
over 13,000 Likud surfers who voted on the website, 58
percent supported the plan and 42 percent opposed it.
According to some observers, achieving a majority for the
plan may depend on Sharon's ability to motivate supporters to
actually vote. There will reportedly be over 440 polling
stations in some 170 locales throughout the country. Polls

will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., with over 160
lawyers and 1,300 security guards observing the vote.
According to Likud MK and disengagement supporter Majallie
Whbee, it is convenient for Likud voters to reach their
polling stations.


3. (C) As predicted, in April 28 interviews given before the
poll results were published, Sharon depicted the referendum
as a confidence vote in his premiership, stating April 28
that: "Anyone who believes in me must vote for the
disengagement.... You can't be for me and against the plan I
am promoting.... Those who want me have to vote with me."
Knowing the hesitation Likud voters may have in going against
the popular PM, key disengagement foe and
Minister-without-Portfolio Uzi Landau has been trying to
de-link Sharon from his plan, telling channel 10 news April
28 that opposition to disengagement does not mean opposition
to Sharon. Indeed, most anti-disengagement slogans have
avoided negative rhetoric against Sharon, with one even
stating: "We love you, Sharon, but we're voting against."


4. (C) In recent interviews, Sharon has scorned
disengagement opponents for risking the friendship of the
United States, and even resorted to the old-fashioned guilt
trip by claiming opponents would cause a "hard blow to the
prestige of the U.S. President... who faces world terror and
thinks this plan is excellent." In an April 28 radio
interview, Sharon also managed to tie his plan to Israel's
economic well-being, alluding to possible economic strife,
including investment and stock market woes if the plan fails.
(Note: Israel's financial market, while jittery, has not yet
reacted strongly to the upcoming referendum. Tel Aviv stocks
dropped a little over one percent each day April 28-29. The
shekel-dollar rate did not change appreciably in that
period.)

--------------
Olmert Campaigning
--------------


5. (C) Media commentators and Likud activists attribute
much of Sharon's difficulties to his lethargic and tardy PR
campaign, which cannot compete with the armies of
in-your-face campaigning opponents. One channel 10 news
commentator, when asked to comment on Sharon's campaign,
exclaimed: "Campaign, what campaign? There is no campaign."
The one major visible symbol of Sharon's campaign remains
D/PM Ehud Olmert who was broadcast on channel 10 news
traveling on his lone campaign bus to Likud branches in the
north with a handful of Likud activists. A chatty Olmert
seemed undaunted by his monumental task.


6. (C) Sharon has endeavored to remain humble but upbeat in
his interviews, in one reportedly declaring that: "It won't
be simple, but I'll win." He has also painted a more cheery
picture of the extent of active ministerial support,
reportedly claiming that Ministers Tzipi Livni, Meir
Sheetrit, and Gideon Ezra have joined his campaign, and
noting that "(FM) Silvan (Shalom) is working with us now."
The question, however, is whether the slow momentum he may be
developing can compete in the final 72 hours with the
opposition's three-week campaign of posters, slogans,
religious leaders' support, and door-to-door campaigners.
Likud MK Majallie Whbee told poloff on April 29 that
observers should expect a more energized pro-disengagement
campaign in the coming days. Like Sharon, he refused to be
discouraged, stating firmly, "everything will turn out all
right."

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