U.S.-born Eli Kashdan Places 5Th in Yisrael b'Aliyah

Eli Kashdan, an American-born immigrant and a former party secretary for Yisrael b'Aliyah was elected to fifth spot on the party's Knesset list on Thursday. Some 500 members of the Yisrael b'Aliyah central committee convened Thursday afternoon in Beit Hahayal in Tel Aviv, to vote for the party's top 10 candidates for the Knesset. Kashdan is the representative of the English-speaking community in Israel, and is expected to attract voters from the Anglo-Saxon community.

Party chair Natan Sharansky heads the party list, as the spot is reserved for him. Second came MK Yuli Edelstein (uncontested), followed by MK Marina Solodkin (who beat Ella Spiegel by 247 votes to 72). In fourth place came MK Gennady Riger, but the call was close. Riger beat the chairman of the party's Jerusalem branch by just 50 ballots.

Sharansky made it clear that he would support Ariel Sharon as prime minister. "As soon as the results are known, we will unite and everyone will work [inter alia] toward ensuring that Ariel Sharon remains prime minister."

Kashdan's success in the poll will strengthen the party's strategy to combat its previous image as exclusively for Russian-speakers. The party attempted to lure the English-speaking community to a widely-publicized event in the Renaissance Hotel, Jerusalem on Wednesday, and which managed to attract hundreds of enthusiastic supporters.

All Shinui MKs keep their places Chairman Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, and all six of Shinui's serving MKs retained their positions on the party's Knesset list yesterday. Some 130 candidates competed for the top 18 places. The list was to be decided by a vote of 167 party council members, around half of whom are also candidates. Lapid, standing against two relatively unknown candidates, won 76 percent of the vote. MK Avraham Poraz was reelected to second place in the list. MK Yehudit Naot retained third place on the list, while ML Yosef Paritzky managed to keep his fourth place but only by a whisker. MK Victor Brailovsky needed two rounds of voting to take sixth spot. The fourth place on the list was reserved for MK Eliezer Zandberg, as a right wing representative.