Barak Officially Labor Candidate for Prime Minister after Deadline Passes
The official candidates for next week's Israeli prime-ministerial election are Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Likud leader Ariel Sharon after the deadline for either candidate to withdraw from the race passed at midnight Thursday, reported the Israeli press.
Over the last few weeks there was increasing pressure on Barak to quit the race given his poor standing in every published poll.
Many of Barak's left-wing colleagues and friends alike called on him to make way for former Labor premier Shimon Peres, said The Jerusalem Post.
Speaking to Israel Radio this morning, Peres was quoted by the paper as saying at the end of the day, only Barak could decide his own fate. Peres added that the only opinion polls he saw were those published by the media, but he would not be drawn into saying he felt he would have a better chance than Barak.
Barak’s decision not to step down for Peres came despite early reports that the opinion polls in the Friday papers show Likud leader Ariel Sharon preserving a 17- to 20-point lead over Barak. And despite the fact that senior Labor members, interviewed Thursday, sounded as if their thoughts were focused less on what could be done to confound the polls in the five days remaining until the vote, and more on how internal party matters would pan out the day after the election, said Haaretz.
Meanwhile, the leading figures of the Israel's Ashkenazi haredim are expected to meet today to discuss whether to formally back Sharon, said the Post.
So far, only a couple of leading rabbis have asked their followers to vote for Sharon in Tuesday's prime-ministerial election, added the paper.
It said that Sharon met United Torah Judaism Knesset members last night in a bid to persuade them to officially back his candidacy – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)