Likud, Labor Work to End Kadima

Senior Labor officials speak of the need to 'destroy' Kadima and bring back former members who joined Kadima in 2005.

A day after Likud officials said their goal is to see Kadima vanish after the elections, Labor Party officials said they share this goal.

Speaking at a Labor Knesset faction meeting yesterday, several senior party officials spoke of the need to "destroy" Kadima - even before the election, as much as possible - and bring back to the party former Labor members who joined Kadima upon its establishment in 2005.

One senior Laborite, Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, told Haaretz yesterday that following the recent Gaza operation, "the political map is once again starting to rest on right and left, without the center.

"Kadima is built partly on rightists and partly on Labor members, and we must bring the latter home as soon as possible."

In particular, Labor is aiming to woo mayors affiliated with Kadima, as they are considered a major source of that party's strength in the field.

Yesterday, it scored two victories on this front: Both Ra'anana Mayor Nahum Hofri and Ma'aleh Yosef Mayor Avi Krampa announced that they were supporting Labor's chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in next month's election.

Labor says that other, similar announcements, will follow in the coming days.

Buoyed by recent polls showing that the Gaza operation sharply boosted the party's popularity, Labor officials have also decided to resume their traditional campaign tours of open-air markets to press the flesh.

Prior to the operation, Labor had decided to skip such tours, in the knowledge that its representatives would be met with open disdain.

"People meet me in the street, in the markets, and in the Israeli street, there is great openness to us, to the Labor Party," Barak told the faction meeting.

"We just need to really be there, to go out into the streets and extract whatever we can from people's desire to return to Labor," he added

As a first step, several Labor MKs plan to tour Lod's open-air market this morning.