Gaps between the Likud and Labor-Hatnua are too big to be contained in one coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.
“Labor picked an extreme leftwing and anti-Zionist list. There is a gaping chasm between the Likud, led by me, and Labor,” he stated. “We will not cooperate with them in one government.”
Netanyahu quoted several controversial statements by candidates in realistic spots on the Labor list: MK Merav Michaeli, who once said Israeli mothers should not send their sons to the army; MK Stav Shaffir, who, according to a book on the 2011 social protests, called “Hatikva” a racist song; Prof. Yossi Yona, who said he does not connect to the concept of Zionism; and Zouheir Bahloul, who said his Palestinian identity is stronger than his Israeli identity.
“The responsible and nationalist approach of the Likud, led by me, does not have a meeting point with Tzipi [Livni] and Buji’s [Isaac Herzog’s] left-wing list that now is clearly extremist,” the prime minister added.
“Buji” is Herzog’s childhood nickname, meaning “cutieface,” which his campaign has asked people to stop using.
Netanyahu’s comments came shortly after Livni said Hatnua-Labor would not form a unity government with the Likud.
“Unity is not a technical matter of giving out portfolios; rather, it must be formed around a path,” Livni said. “Netanyahu and [Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali] Bennett’s way is one that is deteriorating Israel in every area.
“It’s important to understand what the blocs are in this election.
There is an extreme rightwing bloc including Likud and Bennett, and their path is clearly not our path,” she added.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On expressed skepticism about the barbs exchanged between the Likud and Labor, saying, “The day after the election, Herzog and Livni will sit in the government, whether as prime minister or as ministers in a Bibi-Bennett government.”
According to Gal-On, if Meretz gets 10 seats, there will be a “revolution” and Herzog will be the prime minister in a center-left government.
“Meretz is the only left-wing party in Israel that doesn’t put on a centrist mask and isn’t ashamed of being left-wing, unlike Labor-Hatnua, which is running from being labeled as Left,” she added.
Also on Friday, the Likud used the classic election cliché of “who would you like to pick up the phone at 3 a.m.” in a new attack ad posted to Netanyahu’s Facebook page.
The cartoon clip depicts Labor-Hatnua leaders Herzog and Livni as sitting by a desk with a ringing red telephone – President Barack Obama’s “rebuke line” – and bickering over who should answer.
“No, you answer.”
“But we’re in a rotation!” “Right, so today you need to answer,” the argument goes.
Herzog is presented as nervous, cowering behind the table and turning red, while Livni scolds and wags her finger at him, tells him to grow up and says, “I’m counting to three.”
Then, the words “in the moment of truth, Netanyahu,” appear on the screen.
Labor used the same slogan for Ehud Barak in 2009.
The video was posted after Livni told Army Radio: “The question in this election is not who answers the phone in Jerusalem at 3 a.m.; it’s which prime minister will answer Washington at 3 a.m.”
“In this election, the question is about who will answer the red telephone in Jerusalem and also, mostly about what will be said on the red phone,” Netanyahu wrote in the Facebook post that accompanied the video.
According to Netanyahu, “it’s easy to get applause and caresses from the international community; what has to be done is to give in to international pressure and agree to establish Hamastan a second from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, like Tzipi and Buji want.”
Netanyahu continued: “This is not my path. As prime minister of Israel, I will continue standing up for Israel’s security and national interests of the nation and the state, decisively and firmly.”
Later on Friday, Labor-Hatnua’s Facebook page posted a clip that began the same as the Likud one, but said the question is not who will answer the phone, but who will call.
“Will it be the Europeans who, because of you, listen to the Palestinians, or the Americans who hang up on you? Bibi, no one in the world is willing to listen to you, not on the phone or in any other way,” the video stated.
When asked about the lack of a major security figure on the Labor-Hatnua list, Livni asserted to Army Radio that she should be considered that person.
“As someone who was in the diplomatic-security cabinet for 10 years and in the group of three who made decisions about war and operations, including confidential ones, I will continue to fight the perception that women cannot give a response in defense matters. They can, and how,” she said.