Smell of Victory Brings Out Likud in Tiberias

Attorney Yossi Finian stood at the entrance to the polling place, in Tiberias' Eden Hotel, making last-minute attempts to persuade voters.

"I left the office and with the rest of the family came to help father. He's got to make it into the Knesset this time. We're old hands at election campaigns; I think we've been through at least 10," he says.

His father, Zion Finian, is a veteran Likud member and was deputy mayor of Tiberias for a decade. He is no stranger to the colorful stalls, handshakes and smell of deals at the primary.

In the previous party primary, in 2006, Finian was chosen Likud regional candidate, but the Likud crashed in the general election, and Finian, in 23rd place on the party's slate, remained outside the Knesset.

This time, when the Likud's victory appears certain and a Knesset seat for the candidate of the Galilee-Valleys region seems closer than ever, 10 more candidates entered the race for the promised seat. No fewer than four Tiberias residents vied yesterday for the slot reserved for the region's representative.

"That's what we Tiberians are like," says Herzl Simha. "Instead of gathering behind one candidate, we're resorting to factionalism and jealousy. It's an internecine war. We haven't been able to produce a Knesset member in 50 years, while the kibbutzim around have succeeded. Every Tiberian worth three votes suddenly wants to be a Knesset member."

The Likud's scalding defeat in the municipal election last month was the major force driving party members to the ballot yesterday.

"If all those here had voted for Yossi Ben-David, our candidate, he would have won the local election," says Fargi Shemesh angrily.

Ben-David returned to the political fray, running in the primary against Finian and the other candidates.