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Jul. 25, 2007 21:49 | Updated Jul. 25, 2007 23:26
By GIL HOFFMAN
Likud leadership candidate Moshe Feiglin vowed to do the unexpected and win the August 14 Likud primary, at a rally of his supporters launching his campaign on Wednesday at Jerusalem's Ramada Renaissance Hotel.
Feiglin accused the incumbent in the race, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, of being under pressure due to his competition. Defying polls suggesting that he had no chance of defeating Netanyahu, Feiglin mentioned the word "victory" repeatedly in his short speech.
"The victory will come," he said. "We can feel it in the air and in the hysteria of the other side. We are not playing games anymore. We intend to win this time. We have to win this time. I'm sick of it. I want to win this time."
Feiglin said the primary was taking place exactly a year after what he called "the devastating loss to Hizbullah" and two years after what he called "the expulsion from Gush Katif." He said "new hope would sprout" if he would win the race on the same day.
A homogeneous religious-Zionist crowd of more than 100 people listened to speeches from very diverse Feiglin supporters. The speakers included a secular woman who wants her children to receive a better Jewish education, a Russian immigrant, a haredi rabbi, a teenager expelled from Gush Katif and well-known attorney Haim Misgav.
Feiglin ascended the stage to a new theme song based on the Likud's anthem sung by singer Ariel Zilber, who sang the campaign jingle for Baruch Marzel's Jewish National Front party in last year's election.
Officials in Feiglin's campaign accused Netanyahu of trying to prevent Feiglin from running. They said a Netanyahu supporter submitted a petition hundreds of pages long to the Likud's central elections committee to block Feiglin's candidacy and the judge gave Feiglin just one day to respond.
Netanyahu's associates said they were working under the assumption that Feiglin would win some 30 percent of the vote and that they were trying to encourage a high voter turnout to keep Feiglin's numbers down.
World Likud head Danny Danon, who is running against Netanyahu and Feiglin, launched his campaign at the Western Wall on Tuesday during Tisha Be'av by handing out stickers with the slogan "Assad is waiting for Bibi," accusing Netanyahu of being willing to give the Golan Heights to Syria.