Livni, Barak to Vie for Support of Peace Camp at Rabin Memorial

Labor officials displeased over Livni's presence for fear she will be better received than Barak.

It will probably be the largest rally during this elections campaign, for the left wing at least. Next Saturday, on November 8, the crowds will arrive at Ibn Gavirol Street in Tel Aviv to commemorate the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Labor Chair Ehud Barak will be there to commemorate the slain party leader. On Wednesday, it became known that Tzipi Livni, whom Barak will have to beat if he is to become prime minister, will also be attending.

An appearance by Livni before a crowd which defines itself as the "peace camp" could turn out to be an intriguing popularity test for the two hopefuls in this battle for public opinion.

Livni is no stranger to the podium at Rabin Square. At the commemoration rally three years ago she delivered a speech which many found deeply moving in which she said the day Rabin was murdered was "the day that the skies fell down on me because of what happened to us, to all the citizens of Israel."

Political analysts still refer to that speech as a turning point in Livni's career, defining it as the moment that she became popular in left wing circles. Recent polls show that many centrist and left-wing voters prefer Livni and her party, Kadima - which is predominantly made up of Likudniks - over Labor.

Several Labor officials did not seem pleased about the prospect of Livni attending the commemoration. This appears connected to the possibility that she will be greeted with greater enthusiasm than Barak. Such a prospect might help establish Livni as the left wing's candidate in the public's eyes.

Kadima officials were equally apprehensive about Livni's attendance, but for different reasons. They argue that her appearance at a left wing event might cost her hawkish votes, sending more voter slips Likud's way.