Netanyahu begins efforts to cannibalize Right

“This is my obligation to Likud voters. There will be no unity government," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on the cover of the Israel Hayom on Wednesday.

August 8, 2019 03:35
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conferen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conference Monday 27.05.2019. (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)

An article Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on the cover of Israel Hayom on Wednesday ruling out the formation of a national-unity government was the beginning of the prime minister’s campaign to poach votes from the Likud’s satellite parties, sources close to the Likud leader said.

They said Netanyahu will urge right-wing voters not to vote for Otzma Yehudit and Zehut, which polls suggest will not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold. But his main effort will be to grab votes away from the United Right.

Netanyahu’s associates even leaked a “private conversation” he had to Channel 12 in which he warned that the United Right could recommend Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form the next government. United Right leader Ayelet Shaked said chances of that happening were zero.

Netanyahu wrote in the article that he was rejecting Blue and White as a coalition partner.

“My commitment is clear: To establish a strong right-wing government after the election that will continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented heights and to guarantee the security of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu wrote. “This is my obligation to Likud voters. There will be no unity government.”

Netanyahu warned that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman would facilitate the formation of a government led by Gantz and his fellow Blue and White candidate for prime minister, Yair Lapid, if Likud does not win the most seats.

“The Likud needs to be the largest party to ensure we are tasked with forming the government, without giving Liberman the opportunity to steer us toward a weak left-wing government under Lapid and Gantz,” he wrote. “We cannot repeat the mistake of the last election, when right-wing voters squandered seven seats on parties that failed to pass the electoral threshold. We must not jeopardize the right-wing government; therefore we must vote Likud. Anyone who doesn’t vote Likud is essentially voting for the fall of the right-wing government and rise of a left-wing government headed by Lapid and Gantz.”

Sources close to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz reacted with disbelief to the article, saying the real reason a unity government would not be formed with a Netanyahu-led Likud is that Blue and White would not join a coalition with Netanyahu due to the pending corruption charges against him. They said they expected the Likud to elect a new leader after Netanyahu loses the September 17 election who will take the party into a government led by Gantz.

Gantz’s associates said no one should believe what Netanyahu wrote because he made the same commitment after the April 9 election, and then invited both Blue and White and Labor to join the coalition.

“If he offered [then-Labor leader] Avi Gabbay to join a government, he would offer anyone,” a source close to Gantz said. “He would do anything to get the Knesset to give him immunity from prosecution.”

Lapid wrote on Twitter that even if Netanyahu does not want a unity government, Likud MKs do and speak to Blue and White about it every day.
“If he loses the election to us by even one seat, the rebellion in the party will begin,” Lapid wrote.

Shaked said Netanyahu’s premise was incorrect, and that what really mattered was the size of the political blocs.

“The Likud can go with the Left, so only voting for us guarantees a right-wing government,” Shaked said.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer responded to Netanyahu by saying the article he wrote proved he “has become hysterical.”

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