Days Before Knesset Elections, No Real Race in Pardes Hanna

Four days before the Knesset elections, the most dominant candidate in Pardes Hanna appears to be Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whose face is ubiquitous on billboards.

On Friday, activists for Meretz and the Green party were trying to rally support in the center of town. But according to some patrons of a local coffee shop, it seems they have a lot of work ahead of them.

P. sat at the Round Cafe, and says that until recently, she was debating between Kadima and Hadash. "I was debating whether to vote against chauvinism or against racism," she explains.

But what tipped the balance for her was the Likud campaign: The ads describing Kadima head Tzipi Livni as "weak on security," which concluded "it's too much for her," angered her, and led her to decide to give the Foreign Minister her vote.

Most of her family will vote for Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu, she says. Her father, however, will still vote Likud.

"My father [reflects] the million Russian floating votes. Whoever convinces him wins the election," she says.

Roi Akuka-Bartel, 29, was also at the cafe with his wife, Roni. Four days before the election, he is still unsure whom to vote for. At first he considered Lieberman, "but I concluded that Lieberman is too extreme and that he will lead to a war in the Middle East," he says.

He then considered Ehud Barak of Labor, but he concluded that "would be a waste of a vote." Socially speaking, "Shas has done much more," he says.

Roni explains to him that supporting Shas is not a vote for the premier. "I thought it was two separate votes," he tells her, and is told that voters cast only one slip.

"I always voted Shas and Bibi [Netanyahu]," he explains, adding that he is a Likud member.

But "if I could vote for someone who would do something for real, I would vote for Ephraim Sneh," he says.

"I would let him run the country, but he has no chance."

After going through four parties in 15 minutes, he announces: "I am not even sure if I will actually vote. We could go for a trip."

Roni supports Meretz. "I'm not an idiot. I know they will not bring peace, but this is the only party I believe in, in terms of social and environmental [agendas], I am still loyal to them and I have always voted Meretz," she says.

They both say that the vast majority of Pardes Hanna's residents support Netanyahu.

"There are leftist exceptions, but they are insignificant compared to the overall population," Roni says.

Amit Reiter, who owns the cafe, says it doesn't feel like an election campaign is going on, except "at night when you get home, tired, and you start flipping the channels."

He adds, "In Pardes Hanna there aren't many campaign billboards. People don't have time for this. Everyone is fed up."

His friend, Yair Papi, says that on Election Day he will just flip a coin. In the previous election he voted for the Pensioners and he was very disappointed.

"I think they will crash [this time] because even the old people are not supporting them," he says.

Danielle Ayalon sits at the nearby table. She is active in the Lieberman campaign. "This is the only person I can say for a fact I can trust," she says.

"I am not saying we should drive [Israeli Arabs] out. I say to separate so that there will be quiet. Bibi was prime minister, and it was not quiet.

"When Barak was prime minister, there was no quiet."