Kadima kicks off campaign with threat to assassinate Hamas chiefs
Hard-line stance is part of efforts to improve party's image following Livni's slump in polls after the Gaza war.
Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz threatened to assassinate Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders, as Kadima kicked off its election campaign in Sderot Monday.
Speaking about kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Mofaz addressed Haniyeh. "As long as Gilad Shalit doesn't see the light of day, you won't see the light of day. As long as Shalit doesn't go free, you and your friends will not be free. We won't hesitate to send you on the the way we sent Yassin and Rantissi," he said, referring to previous Hamas leaders.
Mofaz's hard-line stance is part of Kadima's efforts to improve its image in the campaign, following Kadima leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's decline in the polls after the war in Gaza.
Livni, who is also trying to look tough, devoted a considerable part of her speech to the Gaza war's accomplishments. She threatened Hamas that Israel would react harshly to any rocket fire, or even to any arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
"That's our commitment to the future and that's what a Kadima government headed by me will do," Livni said.
Dalia Itzik, the Knesset speaker, also tried to bolster Livni's image, saying "Tzipi Livni initiated this operation."
Kadima unveiled its election-campaign broadcasts Monday, including several negative ones against Netanyahu, who is portrayed as unreliable and having a problem personality.
Kadima's campaign heads tried to convey that despite the polls showing Kadima lagging behind Likud, the results were still open because 30 percent of the public has not decided whom to vote for.
The party's campaign chief, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, said that "experience has taught us that the floating votes come from the intelligent part of the public. The elections are between two candidates, Bibi [Netanyahu] and Tzipi. The public ought to know that a government headed by Netanyahu will not make peace."
Vice Premier Haim Ramon accused Netanyahu of arrogance. "Whoever sums up this campaign is making a bad mistake - 30 percent haven't decided yet, that's an unprecedented number."
Livni's brother Eli Livni met with Netanyahu Monday and agreed to join Likud's campaign volunteers. He had left Likud and joined Kadima with its foundation, but returned to Likud after the Second Lebanon War, after his disappointment with Kadima's leadership.