In the final few days before the election, there were countless interviews with the party leaders – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who granted far more over that period than in the past six years combined.
One of the most common questions asked was what the party heads regret. Most of the leaders avoided those questions, while others said what they thought their strategists would want them to say. But it is unlikely that any actually said what they are truly feeling.
Perhaps in the weeks after the election, such truths will be revealed publicly in more candid interviews and off-the-record postmortems. But that will be too late for the voters whose chance to decide the fate of the country will have passed.
If the party leaders were to apologize honestly to their voters today for the decisions they made over the past few months, chances are they would say the following: Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud: “I am sorry I initiated this election. I did not like that my coalition was unstable and that Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid undermined me. But had I known that I could really lose, of course, I would have preferred to stay in power without all these headaches.
“I am sorry I did not focus my campaign more on socioeconomic issues from the start. The voters trust me on security, but on the economy, my accomplishments and my plans need more explaining. I did it too little and too late.
“I am also sorry I went to Washington. I am not sorry about doing everything I can to prevent the nuclearization of Iran. But I, apparently, really needed to stay here and campaign more.”
Isaac Herzog, Zionist Union: “I am sorry I made the deal with Tzipi Livni. Had I known when I gave her a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office that I might actually win the election, there is no way I would have made the deal.
Now she agreed to give it up under certain conditions. But it looks like I will still have to put up with her – until she moves to another new party.”
Avigdor Liberman, Yisrael Beytenu: “I am sorry I didn’t stop this election from happening. I could have done it.
All I needed was to agree to sit with the haredim, and Netanyahu would have formed a new government without elections. People told me I could become prime minister, and I should not have listened to them.
“I knew there would be more criminal investigations, but I did not think they would harm me politically. In the past, all the probes boomeranged and helped me. I would not have banished my respected ministers Yair Shamir and Uzi Landau had I known that no one who could bring me any votes would be willing to replace them.
“I am sorry I raised the electoral threshold and united the Arab parties. If they finish third and I barely pass the electoral threshold, maybe I deserve it.”
Naftali Bennett, Bayit Yehudi: “I am sorry I said I would not apologize. That was a promise I should have known I could not keep.
“I apologize for my deal with Yair Lapid and for trying to bring in a shellfish-eating, disengagement-supporting, washed up former soccer-star. I did not apologize for saying I had a deal with Netanyahu that we would not attack each other during the campaign. But I should have.
“I apologize that my campaign was not even close to being as good as it was last time. If I get a lot fewer votes, I really am sorry.”
Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid: “I am sorry I didn’t do everything possible to prevent this election from happening. The race already started the day after the last election when I mistakenly called myself a candidate for prime minister.
“I apologize for forcing Bennett on Netanyahu, who did not want him, and on my voters, who did not expect me to join the settlers.
“Maybe if I would have made more of an effort to get along with Netanyahu, I could have gotten more time as finance minister to prove myself and let the economy get better before I had to face the voters. I should not have given him any excuse to initiate this election that the public didn’t want.”
Ayman Odeh, Joint (Arab) List: “I am sorry I could not persuade Balad to accept a vote-sharing agreement with Meretz.
“And I apologize in advance if I fail to persuade them to recommend to the president that Herzog form the government.
I will apologize even more if Netanyahu forms the government.”
Moshe Kahlon, Kulanu: “I am sorry I wasn’t more interesting.
I like to talk about the housing crisis and monopolies, but a lot of people don’t understand that stuff. Maybe if I would have talked about other things, I would have gotten more votes.
“I am sorry I formed a new party. I know there are too many of them. Had I known Netanyahu was so weak, I would have stayed in Likud and waited patiently for him to lose.”
Zehava Gal-On, Meretz: “I am sorry my party took support away from the only candidate who could beat Netanyahu.
“I am also sorry I danced so badly in that video at the start of the campaign. If we don’t pass the threshold, I will have more time to take lessons.”
Arye Deri, Shas: “I am sorry I pretended to quit. I should have known no one would buy that. It didn’t give me a single vote."
“I am sorry I pretended to speak for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He is dead, and I have absolutely no idea what he would say if he were still alive. Probably: Stop fighting.”
Eli Yishai, Yahad: “I am sorry I pretended to speak for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He is dead, and I have absolutely no idea what he would say if he were still alive. Probably: Stop fighting.
“He probably would have also told me to stay in Shas and not to make a deal with Baruch Marzel. He would not have known who Yoni Chetboun is. Who is he again?”
Ya’acov Litzman, United Torah Judaism: “I am sorry my community did not have more children 18 years ago. We would have had more votes.”