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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Did Abu Mazen endorse Kadima Achora?

Yesterday, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Abu Mazen allegedly said that he hoped that Kadima Achora would win the election. Today, both Abu Mazen and Olmert are trying to backtrack.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Abu Mazen now claims that he was misquoted, while HaAretz quoted a senior aide to Abu Mazen as saying
"He said he doesn't interfere in Israeli elections." The aide said Abbas meant that "As polls suggest Kadima would win, he would deal with him [Olmert] as he knows him well."
Both Labor and the Likud reacted strongly to the news that Abu Mazen had endorsed Kadima Achora. The Jerusalem Post reports that

Labor officials were quick to condemn the endorsement, although Peretz's official spokesmen denied that the Labor chairman was angered by the comments.

One high-ranking Labor official said that Peretz ended Israel's isolation of the PA through his meeting with Abbas last week. "Is this what we get in return?" the official asked.


Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu said he was not surprised that Abbas support Olmert. "I want to remind you that these elections will be decided by Israeli citizens and not by foreigners and certainly not by the Palestinians."

Abbas prefers Olmert because he believes a government led by Olmert would be in the best interest of the Palestinians, Netanyahu said on Wednesday at Likud Party headquarters. Abbas knows that Olmert won't stand firm on terror and would make concessions while asking little in return.

Abbas doesn't want the Likud, which would stand firm against terror and for the best interest of Israel, said Netanyahu. What's important is that Israelis identify with the Likud, he said.

Kadima Achora has been distancing itself from Abu Mazen's endorsement. HaAretz reports that
Kadima officials were quoted yesterday as saying they feared the reputed endorsement would hurt Olmert's candidacy. "We have no interest in such an endorsement," said one official, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

Kadima spokeswoman Maya Jacobs said Abbas "first needs to make sure that the incoming Hamas government renounces terrorism, changes its charter and recognizes Israel's right to exist before anything else. Then we'll talk."


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