Shas Supports Ex-intel General Shachor in T.A.

On the eve of today's local elections, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party declared its support for Oren Shachor in the Tel Aviv mayoral race. The movement which advised its members to vote for Shachor for mayor and Shas for city council.

Shachor is a former high-ranking officer in Military Intelligence.

Over the past few days, another leading candidate in the mayoral race, former Hadash MK Dov Khenin, vied for Shas' favors, and before yesterday evening it was uncertain which way the party would go. At Khenin's party Ir Lekulanu (City for All), activists said they were confident their man would make it to the second round against the incumbent, Ron Huldai.

Khenin's chief of staff for the election campaign, Anat Hod, told Haaretz that the party plans to place an observer at each of the city's 654 ballot boxes. She said the observers had undergone training designed to help them supervise vote counting.

Discussing Ir Lekulanu's campaign strategy, spokeswoman Sharon Shahaf said: "We never bought ad space on buses and that sort of thing. We only had posters put up from balconies in private homes. It's cheaper and it's more effective. We are an activists' movement, so people who put up our posters on their balconies partook in this activism."

As for Khenin himself, he drove to Jerusalem in the afternoon yesterday to attend the annual commemoration service for prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. "It's one of the most meaningful events in the year for me, both on the Hebrew calendar and as a Knesset member," he said.

"I feel very optimistic about Israeli society's readiness for change," Khenin said when asked about his chances.

Meanwhile, Mayor Huldai, who is running for a third term, spent the last day of his campaign holding meetings, touring the city and coordinating campaign-related activities.

"There is no reason for me to worry or to be upset," a smiling Huldai told Haaretz. "I have a good gut feeling about this." He said his day consisted of routine work complemented by a tour of central Tel Aviv, the port area and Jaffa. There was also a trip to the commemoration tent that the Noar Haoved Vehalomed youth movement, set up for Rabin at the square bearing his name.

"I trust the people of Tel Aviv to come in droves to vote and not let a determined minority cast the deciding vote," Huldai said when asked about his message to voters. "My message is that people need to come and vote. It's important to me that the people of Tel Aviv and Jaffa take an active part in deciding their future."