New Right leader Naftali Bennett issued a fierce attack on the Zehut Party of former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin on Wednesday at a Hebrew-language conference in Tel Aviv that was sponsored by The Jerusalem Post Group, parent company of Maariv newspaper and the Post.
Bennett’s attack came after Zehut started obtaining a similar amount of seats in polls as the New Right, taking votes away from the party of Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. He used the speech and his answers to questions from Maariv columnists to reach out to Feiglin’s young voters in the religious Zionist movement.
“I say to each of them – Feiglin is a man with good intentions, but behind him are people on the Left as well as on the Right, and that is exactly the incident we had with [former Tzomet Party leader Raphael] Raful Eitan in 1992. The people he brought in dismantled our house. Every vote that goes to Feiglin brings the bulldozers closer to your houses. Do not vote to destroy your house.”
Bennett accused Feiglin of being “almost a phenomenon of messianism.” He said Feiglin wrote two months before the 2005 Gaza disengagement that it would not happen.
Naftali Bennett at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019 (Credit: Ronen Shamir)
“A new generation has grown who does not know the old Feiglin, but this is the same book in a different cover,” Bennett said.
When Feiglin spoke to the conference, he did not respond to Bennett but addressed reports that Zehut would end up being the party that decides whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Blue and White leader Benny Gantz forms the next government.
“If indeed Zehut holds the balance of power, it will be the first time that power goes to the young people of Israel and not a specific sector,” Feiglin said. “Both sides have made contact, and we are speaking with everyone. We are not in anyone’s pocket. And even though both sides say we did, we have not reached a deal with anyone.”
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg cited polls indicating that Feiglin’s votes come from right-wing parties and not Meretz.
“There is no overlap in voters with Feiglin, which does not surprise me because Meretz is a left-wing party and Feiglin’s is a right-wing party,” Zandberg said at the conference. “The only issue we have in common is legalization of cannabis, in which as usual, Meretz was the pioneering party.”
Mocking Blue and White leaders’ experience dealing with the Gaza Strip, Bennett said that “generations of defense ministers and generals with 117 and 217 years of experience have been explaining to us that there is no solution.”
He vowed that if appointed defense minister, he would restore quiet to the South in what he called “a very sophisticated air operation, in which we will not bring in soldiers if there is no need.”
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