Before you make your way to the ballot box and choose the candidate that represents you, The Jerusalem Post has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog the chance to convince you why they are worthy of being the next prime minister of Israel. In their own words, without filters or editing.
Particularly critical elections by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Citizens of Israel, today we head to the ballot box to exercise our democratic right. I turn to you in a request that you choose me in order that I can continue to securely lead Israel in the coming years. These elections are particularly critical. Massive challenges stand before us, and at this time in particular, an experienced, strong and responsible leader is needed, that will know how to navigate the ship to a secure and safe place.
These are fateful days. Soon we will know if world powers will sign a dangerous agreement with Iran that will enable it to continue on its path to achieving a nuclear bomb. A government under my leadership will not contribute to this happening. We have done much on this issue, in ways seen and unseen, and I intend on continuing to do all in my power to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, capable of putting into action its threat to erase Israel from the map.
In the economic arena there have been great achievements by my government - as opposed to others, we have proof of great action and do not glorify ourselves with empty slogans and magic solutions. We implemented free education from the age of three and free dental treatment until the age of 12; we raised the minimum wage twice; we connected the Negev and the Galilee to the Center by constructing roads, junctions, bridges and trains; we created hundreds of thousands of jobs, we decreased unemployment to the lowest level in decades, we decreased the price of electricity, water, the Internet and cellular communication. We opened the skies, moved forward the opening of a new airport in the South, as well as many other important achievements.
In addition, there are two challenges before us that I plan to focus on and handle in a fundamental and in-depth manner: the cost of living and the cost of housing. In the past year we have succeeded in bringing down the cost of food by five percent, and we intend to continue to act with vigor to lower prices. On the housing front, we are now building thousands of apartments in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Beersheba, Yokneam and Afula, and we intend to continue to build more. As much as is needed. The only way to deal with this problem is with a dramatic increase in supply in the housing market. I have no doubt that, with hard work, we will succeed in this mission, just as we succeeded in lowering prices in the cellular market and other areas.
During my tenure as prime minister, I proved that I can stand up to great international pressure, and I refused to make concessions on the most important principles to the state of Israel and its citizens. I knew how to stand steadfast against any initiative of concessions, withdrawal and the dividing of Jerusalem. Because of this insistence, we prevented the establishment of a second Hamastan, minutes away from Ben-Gurion Airport, that would hurt and endanger the lives of the state's citizens. This is exactly what Tzipi and Buji are liable to cause if the Left is put in power. My aggressive and unwavering stance to protect the citizens of Israel has not been undermined for a moment. Therefore, I flew to speak before Congress and warn against a bad deal with Iran, despite the great pressure that was directed against me.
Citizens of Israel, these elections are critical elections. We cannot be apathetic. The Left is waging a massive campaign, funded with tens of millions of foreign dollars, to raise the voting rate in the Arab sector and in leftist strongholds. We do not have this money, but we have you. We have the majority of the Jewish people that want the continued rule of the nationalist camp.
In these elections, currently neither bloc has 61 mandates. In this situation, the biggest party is likely to be given the right to form the coalition. At this hour, we do not have the privilege to vote for small parties. Only a vote for the Likud will lead to closing the gap between the Likud and Labor. The question of whether a small party, that is not the ruling party, will win or lose an extra mandate is much less important than the question of who will form the next government.
Those who want me to continue to lead Israel to achievements and security are obligated to vote for me and my party - Likud - and to put "Machal" in the ballot box.
Historical opportunity, by leader of the Zionist Union Isaac Herzog
Theodor Herzl said: “All the deeds of men are dreams at first”. The Zionist Union began as a dream, a dream to bring back hope to the Israeli nation and to take back control of our own fate. Just four months ago, few people believed that this dream was possible. But my partner, Tzipi Livni, and I refused to despair.
We decided to combine our efforts in an effort to put an end to the cycle of despair, and instead to lead the people of Israel down a different path. From the moment the Zionist Union came into existence, we have been galloping down the road towards a dramatic reversal in government. This union is driven by the hope and faith of the masses of Israeli citizens who have joined our efforts to replace Benjamin Netanyahu’s failing government.
As the grandson of an Israeli Chief Rabbi and the son of an IDF colonel who served as Israel’s sixth president, I grew up in the public sphere. Throughout the years, I followed in their footsteps and acted in accordance with the morals laid down by my family members. I served as an officer in the IDF 8200 Intelligence Unit and spent seven years as a cabinet member and Minister of Housing, Tourism and Welfare. Now that this chance for change is so close, we must not miss this historic opportunity that lies before us. Together with the Zionist Union’s fantastic team, I will prove to the Israeli people that we truly see them and are ready to listen to them and find real solutions.
I will carry out a program of social reform. I will stand at the head of the housing committee to ensure that the best professionals invest all their energy and use their skills to the best of their abilities to lower housing prices and reduce the cost of living, health and education. We will reduce poverty and care for the welfare of each and every Israeli citizen.
Under my leadership, the government will maintain security and fight against our enemies, not our friends. We will strike down terrorist groups with a mighty hand and restore relations and strengthen our strategic ties with the US so that we can put a stop to Iran’s nuclear program.
We will promote regional efforts to demilitarize and rebuild Gaza. We will jump-start the peace process with the Palestinians, while maintaining Israel’s security interests. In order to realize these historic changes, we must choose a responsible and steadfast leadership that is capable of seeing who its citizens are and will stop frightening them. Our leadership will discuss economic issues compassionately and with social sensibility.
This is the type of leadership you will receive if you vote for the Zionist Union. If you believe that change is possible, do not make the same mistake the Israeli people made in 2013. If you want to replace Netanyahu, you must vote for the Zionist Union. Each one of us plays an integral role. Together we will dream and fight for our future. Together we will turn this dream into reality.