The incumbent Israeli Prime Minister made a Richard Nixon-like "I'm no crook" speech on national television to try to rebut allegations of corruption.
It was also an attempt by Ariel Sharon to reverse a slide in his opinion poll ratings which is turning an election campaign many had expected to be a coronation into a much closer fight. Sharon's rival, the Labour leader Amram Mitzna, is no longer being written off as a no-hoper.
He was in London for a meeting with Tony Blair. And the complexities of Israeli electoral politics may yet make him a more influential figure than even he had reckoned.
When Jeremy Paxman met the Israeli Labour leader he asked him why he thought he had a better chance of bringing peace to his country than anybody else.
(LEADER, ISRAELI LABOUR PARTY)
Because I'm bringing a new alternative. An
alternative to the current Government policy;
which is telling the truth. We have to separate
ourselves from the Palestinians and divert all
our efforts and resources to deal with the
challenges that we have domestically at home.
When you say separate from the Palestinians,
famously you would withdraw, first of all
Yes, we are going to withdraw settlements
from Gaza and let the IDF continue to fight
terrorism without the burden of guarding.
And how much of the West Bank would you
First of all some remote settlements, but then
we will open negotiations, resume negotiations
with the Palestinians. Hopefully they will meet
this challenge and take this chance. If not
succeeded, we will also withdraw unilaterally
from places in the West Bank where we
Within what period of time?
I think we will give at least one year for
negotiation. If it fails then we will unilaterally
leave some areas that it's not worthwhile to
be there and to implement so many forces just
to go out and keep settlements.
But, you know, we have been here before.
Your predecessor, Mr Barak, came to a
possible agreement with the Palestinians,
which they didn't accept. Why should they
accept your proposals any more lightly?
Well, both people went through the last two
years, they understand better that military
force will bring nothing to the area. Also
terrorism will not surrender the vital interest of
the state of Israel. So it seems to me that after
these two years, both people are ready to go
back and try again, better than we tried two
Could you do business with Yasser Arafat?
I'm not sure. But I think that we should make
an experience, not with Arafat, but with the
leadership of the Palestinian people.
Hopefully, at the end of this month we will
succeed to replace the government in Israel by
elections and then hopefully the Palestinian
people will recognise that this is another
chance to resume negotiations and they will
also have new leadership.
But you know that is extremely unlikely that
you will win the election. I put to you that you
may be a man that has noble ideals but you are
a man who doesn't fit the times?
No, I don't agree with you. I will do it. Even
though we have only two-and-a-half weeks. I
will do it and the last polls show that there is
now a move from the right block to the left
block which is necessary if I want to form the
You really believe in the midst of this spate of
suicide bombings and the rest of it that the
people of Israel are ready to embrace a man
like you who proposes to hand over
settlements to the Palestinians?
I am completely sure that the Israeli people
understand better now that they have to make
priorities. Priorities means that we have to get
rid of what is less important in order to take
care of what is much more important, which is
the Israeli society and the collapsing economy
in Israel. I'm sure that most Israelis do believe
that it is time to make concessions. Sensitive
This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.