Likud praise effective settler campaign

Ads, phone calls to MKs ‘from PM’ aim to ‘set standard for accountability.'

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 9, 2010 05:05
3 minute read.
Illustrative photo

Tractor in settlement 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)

 
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The campaign by the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to force Likud ministers to abide by their commitments to oppose extending the 10- month construction moratorium was deemed effective on Thursday by its targets.

Likud ministers said they were impressed by the council’s efforts to change tactics and replace the usual rally in Jerusalem’s Kikar Zion with ads quoting ministers opposing the freeze and automated phone calls to Likud activists – the latter featuring a recording of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowing to resume building in September.

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Campaign "Operation Opening Shot" urges calls to ministers, PM

Named “Operation Opening Shot,” the campaign began with the ads in papers on Friday, continued with thousands of phone calls “from Netanyahu” on Saturday night, and culminated in calls to ministers with recordings of themselves opposing extending the freeze, which they received on their way to Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

The campaign was initiated by council chairman Naftali Bennett, who is Netanyahu’s former chief of staff and who borrowed the prime minister’s tactic of applying pressure bottom-up. The immediate result was that ministers targeted by the campaign reiterated their opposition to extending the freeze in media interviews this week.

“This was a laser-guided targeted campaign, and that’s how we are going to work,” Bennett said. “In the ongoing fight to save Judea and Samaria, we will not be suckers.We will be aggressive, smart and creative about preventing a Palestinian state and concessions in Judea and Samaria.”

Bennett said the campaign’s goal was to make Israel’s leaders accountable for their promises.



'We will hold Netanyahu accountable for his promises'

To reward ministers who keep their promises, the council published an ad on the Likud activist Web site Likudnik, commending ministers Yuli Edelstein and Gilad Erdan for voting for a proposal that did not pass on Sunday, that would have required the Knesset to approve extending the freeze.

“Netanyahu was elected on a platform opposing land concessions and a Palestinian state,” Bennett said. “We will fight to make him accountable [for] his promises. The core idea of the campaign is to set a new standard for accountability in Israel. If you make a promise, you gotta deliver. If you deliver, you get praised. If you harm the national cause, we will hold you accountable.”

A Ma’agar Mohot poll of 544 Likud members, sponsored by the council, found that 84 percent of Likud members opposed extending the freeze and 70% believed that such a move would harm Netanyahu’s credibility.

Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon called the campaign “important, targeted and correct.”

“As an opponent of the freeze, I support campaigns that prevent mistakes rather than express regret after them,” Kahlon said.

Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Edelstein, who also opposes the freeze, said the settlers’ campaign was effective because it enabled them to control the message sent to the public better than a rally would.

Campaign waits to see if effective on Netanyahu

He added, though, that the campaign could persuade wavering ministers, but not necessarily the one man in charge: Netanyahu.

“It’s the prime minister who decides, and I don’t know whether he was impressed by the ads and quotes,” Edelstein said.

“There are ministers and MKs whose opinions are impacted by campaigns. It might not be the most effective campaign for persuading Netanyahu.But for the ministers, it can certainly be effective.”

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