While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans to carry out a major retreat in Judea and Samaria after the elections certainly appeal to the elements in the Left now supporting his Kadima party, the Israeli public overwhelmingly rejects his scheme.

Turn the upcoming Knesset elections into a referendum on unilateral withdrawal, instead of a personality contest, and Kadima will plummet.

That's the challenge facing the national camp. And it remains to be seen if the personalities running the campaigns of the national camp parties will realize that the retreat issue is their only solid hope to whittle down to natural size the support this essentially one-man party enjoys.

Play the corruption card? Polls show the public knows full well that Sharon is corrupt, but they don't care.

Highlight commitment to social-welfare policy? Make this the defining issue of the campaign and you are just another "me, too".

Remind voters about the leftists in Kadima? It may convince some voters to "come home," but Sharon is running as the man on the horse who does what he wants, when he wants to, and who couldn't give a damn what anyone else says (or, for that matter, what he himself may have said before), so the composition of his party is of secondary importance.

Israel loves this ultimate "man on the horse". But Israel doesn't want the retreat Sharon is planning.

A poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israeli Jews carried out by Smith Research & Consulting on 29-30 November and sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) found that 67% oppose carrying out a significant unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, if it is not possible to advance in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the basis of the Road Map after the elections because the PA fails to fight terror. Among those who indicated that they plan to vote for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party, 54% oppose and 37% support carrying out a significant unilateral withdrawal under those circumstances.

And the public sees retreat as a defining issue.

A follow-up question found that, of those who oppose unilateral withdrawal under those circumstances, 75% responded that they would not vote for a party that would support such a move. Hammer the message home that a vote for Sharon is a vote for retreat and there is nothing he can say that will convince voters that this isn't the case.

Ironically, the very thing about Sharon that appeals to Israelis - that he does what he wants, when he wants to, and couldn't give a damn what anyone else says or what he himself may have said before - would then be his Achilles heel.