Naftali Bennett voting with his wife, Gila.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The New Right Party battled to stay afloat on Tuesday afternoon, putting out messages that made it seem as if it might lose so many votes to the Likud and the Union of Right-Wing parties that it would not pass the threshold.
“Right now, it is 5:05 p.m.,” New Right Party head and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said an audio message he sent out in English to English speaking voters. “Our situation is bad. We started off well. But then [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu [who heads the Likud] and [Bezalel] Smotrich [of the URP] attacked us from both sides. We are bleeding votes. We need your immediate help. Focus all your votes on the New Right, the letter Nun in the polls. We worked so hard for the past six years and we need every vote.”
“They are doing just fine,” Bennett said. “We need it. We are in a very dangerous point right now. Your vote can make all the difference and allow us to continue.”
Netanyahu in the last days and hours of the election has sought voters from the smaller right-wing parties such as Bennett’s in an effort to ensure that the Likud receives the highest vote count.
According to pre-election polls from last week, the New Right Party had been expected to receive five to eight mandates. In 2013, Bennett was one of the success stories of the election, when the party he then headed, Bayit Yehudi, secured 12 mandates. It’s a number that dropped to eight in 2015. Bennett blamed Netanyahu for taking votes away from his party at the last moment.
Now, he has accused Netanyahu of executing the same pre-election tactic against the new party he now leads, the New Right.
Just prior to his message, the second top politician in his party, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, sent out a similar message in Hebrew.
A source in the URP accused the two ministers of exaggerating the situation.
“Just so it’s clear, the polls show that they are in excellent shape,” the source said. “They are stable and strong. Even if they had 10 mandates, they would issue the same statement just to get the 11th mandate. If they continue this way, they will cause the religious Zionists to disappear.”
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party said that he was certain both Bennett and Shaked would be ministers in the next government.
What is less certain is whether the religious Zionist movement, which is represented by the Union of Right-Wing Parties would make it into the Knesset. His party, Otzma Yehudit is part of that union.
“You have to choose us to ensure that religious Zionism will have a home,” Ben-Gvir said. “Religious Zionism is an institution... It’s not something you go one round with and then exit.” This party is needed to pull the government to the Right, he added.
Smotrich told Bennett and Shaked that they “should be ashamed of themselves” for trying to eliminate the Union of Right-Wing parties.
Union Party head Rafi Peretz responded to the election hysteria and was to head to the Western Wall to seek divine help and to remind voters that theirs was a faith-based party of principles.
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