ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
   africa
   americas
   asianow
   europe
   middle east
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:

 

World - Middle East

Arab candidate drops out of Israeli PM race

May 15, 1999
Web posted at: 3:02 p.m. EDT (1902 GMT)

NAZARETH, Israel (CNN) -- Arab candidate Azmi Bishara pulled out of the race for Israeli prime minister Saturday night, increasing the chances that former Gen. Ehud Barak could defeat incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu in the first round of voting.

Bishara did not endorse any other candidate, but traditionally Arab Israelis have voted for the Labor Party, part of Barak's "One Israel" alliance.

Bishara's decision left four men in the race, but Benny Begin, the son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, was expected to announce Sunday that he too was dropping out.

Both Bishara and Begin were forecast to receive 2 to 3 percent of Monday's vote. The withdrawal of either candidate was expected to help Barak, but it remained an open question whether he would receive enough support to give him a win in the first round of the elections on Monday.

Polls last week showed Barak garnering between 44 and 48.5 percent of the vote with Bishara and Begin still in the running. A majority of votes is necessary for an outright win.

Netanyahu, according to several press reports, has been telling Likud insiders he can still win if the race goes to a runoff on June 1. Even Barak's supports admit a runoff could be "problematic," because Israel has never had a runoff and no one knows who will turn out to vote and in what numbers.

Netanyahu has said that the only legitimate poll is the election itself. He has said repeatedly that the Israeli media is afraid he will stage another come-from-behind victory, as he did in 1996 by beating Shimon Peres. Netanyahu's margin of victory in that race was just over 29,000 votes.

A fifth candidate -- the one polls say clearly could put Barak over the top if he quit -- has said he will stay in the race until the bitter end. Former Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, who polls indicate will get between 6 and 7 percent of Monday's vote, entered the race after he was fired by Netanyahu.

Barak, Netanyahu and Mordechai were expected to resume campaigning Saturday night, at the end of the Jewish Sabbath.


CNN's Randy Harber and Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.




ELECTION BACKGROUND:
Jerusalem Dispatch: Single-issue election puts spotlight on Netanyahu
More choices, weaker voices
Analysis: Why is this election different from all others?
Palestinian perspective: Election viewed with skepticism
U.S. 'hired guns' leave their mark on Israeli politics
Expatriate finds Israelis very much involved in politics
Understanding the U.S.- Israel connection
From TIME.com: James Carville stirs Israel's melting pot

SPECIAL SECTION:
Israeli Elections


RELATED STORIES:
Barak's lead over Netanyahu grows in Israeli poll
May 13, 1999
Ultra-Orthodox rabbis endorse Netanyahu for re-election
May 12, 1999
Israel, PLO welcome delay in office-closings order
May 11, 1999
Netanyahu orders PLO offices in Jerusalem closed
March 10, 1999
Israeli Cabinet defies EU over Jerusalem
March 14, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Israel's Institutions of Government
The Complete Guide to Palistine's Websites
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Home
The Middle East Network Information Center
Office of the Israeli Prime Minister
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Likud party
Welcome to the Knesset - The Israeli Parliament
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.