Netanyahu woos young voters at Tel Aviv nightclub

PM parties with young Likudniks, urges strengthening of party; Yacimovich, Livni: Netanyahu is panicking over united Center-Left.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu parties in Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu parties in Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu waved to young supporters from behind the DJ’s station in a Tel Aviv nightclub on Sunday evening, calling for the public to strengthen Likud Beytenu so he can succeed in a third term after the January 22 election.
“More than 1,000 young people [in the club] understand we need a strong Likud. Any other vote may bring in a left-wing government,” the prime minister said, calling for young voters to convince their friends to vote Likud, while flanked by his sons and several MKs.
Before entering the club, Netanyahu joked with reporters: “It’s not every day that I get to wear jeans and hang out in the Tel Aviv Port.”
He walked into the dark room with flashing, colorful lights as a song by Likud supporter and singer Eyal Golan played: “He who believes is not afraid.”
After saying a few words to the crowd, Netanyahu shook hands with some of the revelers in the front row, and smiled as Sarit Haddad’s “You’re the Bomb,”  the song that got Likud Beytenu in trouble recently, boomed through the loudspeakers.
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“Vote Mahal, Mahal, Mahal,” he told the crowd, referring to Likud Beytenu’s letters on voting slips, amid cheers from supporters waving glow-sticks.
“Starting tomorrow, the polls will turn around,” a Likud campaign spokesman said at the party.
Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, who is chairwoman of the party’s campaign for young voters and organizer of the event, pointed out the 1,000 partiers and several hundred who were left outside for safety reasons, comparing the “flood of excited young Likudniks” to the rain outside.
“The young people are behind Netanyahu, and we’ll help the prime minister be strong so that Israel is strong,” Gamliel said.
Earlier on Sunday, in a rare interview with Israel Radio, Netanyahu said he “needs a larger governing party.”
The prime minister said he was unsurprised that Tzipi Livni and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich planned to form a united front against him, saying he expected it to happen either before or immediately after the election, in an attempt to bring his government down.
“There is only one way to ensure that the Right will run the government in Israel, which is to vote for me,” he said. “The smaller Likud Beytenu gets, the smaller the chances are that we will form the next government. Anyone who wants me to be prime minister but doesn’t vote for me, is increasing the chances the Left will form the next government.”
On Saturday night, Netanyahu told Channel 2 News that if he is reelected, he would like a wide coalition with many parties, but that the Center-Left was already rejecting him.
The prime minister added, however, that if Livni were in his government, he would still lead its diplomatic agenda, and that he would not choose Yacimovich as finance minister. When asked about Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Netanyahu said that there were “no limits” for him.
Following the prime minister’s words on Sunday morning, Yacimovich said Netanyahu did not present a vision or bring hope for the future, but rather a political message of fear.
“It is not a coincidence that Netanyahu is ignoring the reason for the early election – the draconian budget [yet to be drafted for 2013] that will bring a social hell,” she said.
“It is clear that this is a reaction that comes from panic over the fact that Labor re-started the election campaign and is the clear alternative for voters.”
The Labor leader added, however, Lapid and Livni must commit, as she did, not to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, so that the public would believe there was an alternative and vote.
Yacimovich added that in democratic countries, “candidates run in elections and kings are not crowned. The prime minister has trouble getting used to this reality, and we plan to do what is done in democratic countries – try to replace the government.”
The Tzipi Livni Party also accused the prime minister of panicking, pointing to Likud Beytenu’s dropping poll numbers.
“Netanyahu understands that Livni’s initiative to unite the [Center-Left] bloc will lead to him being replaced,” the party said. “Netanyahu is continuing to try to scare citizens of Israel and talking about threats, which the heads of security forces say he is not fit to deal with.
“Israel needs balanced leadership that takes the initiative and does not sweat and make decisions over a glass of alcohol and cigars,” The Tzipi Livni Party said in reference to recent  comments by former Shin Bet leader Yuval Diskin.
Also on Sunday, Yisrael Beytenu denied reports that the party plans to break off from the Likud immediately after the election, saying the agreement signed by the two parties calls for decisions about their status to be made a month later.
“The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu are running for the Knesset together and will cooperate during the coming term. No union will be taken apart,” a Yisrael Beytenu spokesman said.
He added that that after two of the parties originally making up the Likud, Herut and The Liberal Party, formed a joint list called Gahal in 1965, they continued to work independently until they were fully united.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman called for voters to keep Likud Beytenu strong, in order to avoid an “Oslo III” agreement from being reached. The former foreign minister told Israel Radio, however, he supports the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state as described by Netanyahu in his speech at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.
At the same time, Liberman repeated his statement that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace, adding: “It takes two to tango, and we can’t force the Palestinians to change their leadership, but we have patience. We need to explain to the world that if someone is refusing peace, it is [Abbas].”
Meanwhile, Likud Beytenu petitioned the Central Elections Committee to investigate Labor’s and Meretz’s use of performing artists at their campaign events. The singer Efrat Gosh participated in a Labor event that was broadcast on television, and several performing artists, including singer Rona Keinan and actress Renana Raz, performed at a Meretz event.
On Friday, Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate popular singer Sarit Haddad’s performance at a Likud Beytenu event, saying it was illegal.
Likud Beytenu also admitted to the committee on Sunday that it funded anonymous ads attacking the Bayit Yehudi Party, featuring rabbis connected to the Tekuma party, following a complaint by the Bayit Yehudi.