Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File].
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud and his former minister, Koolanu head Moshe Kahlon, got into an unusual ad war on Wednesday, each using the other’s words against him.
Koolanu, a centrist party that has been stuck at eight seats in polls for the next Knesset, released a statement slamming Netanyahu for the country’s economic problems.
“Netanyahu failed and is responsible for the economic collapse of the Israeli citizen. It’s not enough to defeat Hamas, Iran and ISIS [Islamic State]. We must win the battle for life, for the cost of living. Netanyahu failed and the nation of Israel lost. Only Kahlon will win in the economy,” the party said in a statement.
The Likud countered Kahlon’s attacks on Netanyahu Wednesday by releasing a video advertisement in which the party took credit for Kahlon’s cellular reform using an unlikely spokesman, Kahlon himself.
“Without the full cooperation and support I received from the prime minister, whose path I followed, we would not have succeeded in passing it,” Kahlon said in a speech to the Knesset on October 15, 2012.
“These reforms were on the table for many years. We needed such a prime minister so Israeli citizens would be able to enjoy lower prices from free competition and technology.”
The advertisement makes fun of the Koolanu party’s name, which means “All of us” in Hebrew, and says that Kahlon’s successes do not belong to Koolanu but only to the Likud and Netanyahu.
Koolanu decided to fight fire with fire, and released a commercial featuring the prime minister singing Kahlon’s praises.
In the clip, the prime minister brags that Kahlon is the only man who can bring down the cost of housing.
“I’m putting the right man in the right place,” Netanyahu extols in the clip, recorded during the last election cycle at a press conference promising to let Kahlon head up the Israel Lands Authority.
Netanyahu went back on that promise during coalition agreements, ultimately naming Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel as construction minister.
Koolanu’s attack on Netanyahu follows harsh words for the Zionist Union, which released its economic platform on Tuesday.
Due to disagreements with the platform’s author, economist Manuel Trajtenberg, none of the party’s candidates other than party leaders Isaac Herzog of Labor and Tzipi Livni of Hatnua showed up to the unveiling.
“Even the Labor Party’s leaders understand that Trajtenberg is not fit for the Finance Ministry and show no confidence in him and his economic plan,” Koolanu said. “Trajtenberg’s program is not serious, not workable and not relevant.”
Kahlon has said that, like Trajtenberg, he hopes to be finance minister in the next government.
“Trajtenberg is a fiction just like the rotation of Tzipi and Buji [Herzog], like the appointment of [Amos] Yadlin as a defense minister candidate,” Koolanu said, mocking the Zionist Union’s promises to stack the top ministries with its own people and rotate the premiership between its own leaders.
Likud’s Wednesday advertisement was its first attempt to target Kahlon in its campaign.
Until now, all the Likud’s negative ads have attacked Zionist Union leaders Herzog and Livni.
Likud officials believe it is important to win traditional underclass Likud voters away from Kahlon, who may take his party into a coalition led by Herzog.
To that end, Likud MK Miri Regev, who appeals to such voters, announced on Wednesday that she would tour the country from North to South on a bus bearing her picture. On the tour, she intends to meet with ordinary citizens and talk to them about the Likud’s ideology.