Election campaigns officially began moments after Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s announcement on Tuesday night that the vote would take place as soon
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he will make sure the
Knesset is dissolved as soon as possible after the opening of the winter session
Speaking during an official visit in Moscow, Rivlin praised
Netanyahu for calling an election, because the current Knesset cannot make
important, national decisions.
The Knesset speaker said Netanyahu
consulted with him before his official announcement, and that Rivlin said he
will not allow “populist, irresponsible legislation” to be brought to a vote in
the Knesset in the days before it is officially dissolved.
that he does not see a problem calling the Knesset to vote on urgent and
essential matters during the election recess.
Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman said his party, Yisrael Beytenu, is prepared for elections and will
continue its history of increasing the party’s Knesset share after every
“Yisrael Beytenu played a significant role in maintaining the
country’s national character and in the responsibility and stability of this
government,” he stated. “Yisrael Beytenu will continue to be central,
influential and responsible after the election.”
Interior Minister Eli
Yishai hinted that Shas was responsible for the election announcement, saying
that even after the election, his party will not support “a government that
tramples the middle class and the weaker sectors.”
“The next election
will be about the cost of living, losing pensions and the prices of products
that reached record highs,” Yishai said.
“There is no argument about the
need to take care of the Iranian topic and the only dispute is about social
issues. Shas will bring social justice.”
Defense Minister Ehud
Barak said the public should vote for him if they want what is good for Israel.
He professed uncertainty that he would get his portfolio back but touted his
achievements in the area of defense.
“Independence has a clear message in
areas of security, social issues and talks with the Palestinians,” Barak told
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz pointed
out that Habayit Hayehudi is currently in the middle of a primary.
that, he said, the party will unite all of religious Zionism and go to elections
with a large, varied team.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said her party
is the only alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud.
Brussels, where she is attending a European Parliament conference, Yacimovich
said “Labor revived in an unprecedented way an essential agenda for Israel: a
fair economy and just society.”
“The public who put its faith in the
Labor Party understands that security is not just about borders but secure
income, health, a roof to live under and food in the refrigerator,” she stated.
“This election will decide between two paths: Will we live in a jungle where the
stronger ones take all, or an enlightened, moral society?” Yacimovich called for
election campaigns to be civilized and deal with values. Earlier Tuesday, the
Labor leader said she would prefer if the election were held on January
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) called Tuesday “a day of hope
for Israel’s citizens.
After four years of Likud’s rule under Netanyahu,
Israel is isolated, lost its power of deterrence and has no policy to support
the middle class.”
Mofaz said Kadima under his leadership is the only
alternative to Likud, mentioning his credentials as a former IDF chief of staff
and defense minister.
“Whoever wants to replace Netanyahu should join me.
It’s possible,” he stated.
Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who has
yet to announce her return to politics, wrote an anti-Netanyahu note on
Facebook, which she prefaced by saying that it does not have anything to do with
“In the last four years, Israel has become isolated and
closed – the diplomatic process, which was the only way to keep Israel a Jewish
state, was frozen, the words ‘Jewish state’ were taken over by religious
extremists, social gaps deepened and the inequality in the burden of national
service increased,” Livni began. “This is not a natural disaster, it is a direct
result of the Netanyahu government’s policies.”
Immediately following the
prime minister’s announcement, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz sent a long email to
supporters, which ended with a link to a website where recipients can donate
funds to his party.
“Meretz is the only party that will not jump into the
open arms of Netanyahu the day after elections and cuddle with haredim and
settlers,” he wrote. “Meretz is the only one committed to replacing the current
government with a Center-Left one.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said the
election indicates a failure of the government system, since Netanyahu was
unable to pass his budget and called for the system to be
National Union praised Netanyahu’s decision to call early
elections, because it “gives the Zionist, religious public [a chance] to finally
take its place on the political court.” The party predicted that in a united
list with Habayit Hayehudi, the national-religious population will receive 12
seats in the next Knesset.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) called
Netanyahu’s government “a failure in social, economic and diplomatic areas,”
saying it survived only because there was not a true
“UAL-Ta’al, the largest Arab faction, is prepared for
elections and will continue to lead,” he added.