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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu sent a message to voters on the Right on Tuesday that the only way to strengthen a government led by him would be to vote for the Likud and not smaller, right-wing parties.
Netanyahu's call came on the day Shas chairman Eli Yishai formally endorsed him for the premiership and Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman said the country needed a right-wing nationalist government. Yishai's and Lieberman's comments were intended to persuade voters that they could vote for their parties and still help Netanyahu get elected.
"We need a strong government, and for that we need a large Likud," Netanyahu said at a massive rally of more than 1,000 Likud supporters at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
"There is a chance, maybe even a good chance that two weeks from now, we will receive the trust of the nation. And if the nation gives us its trust, we will work to unify the nation and form a strong government, with God's help."
Netanyahu stayed clear of controversial issues in his speech. He made a point of not attacking or even mentioning his competition in the February 10 election, sticking instead to consensus, "motherhood and apple pie" issues like praising the IDF and warning against the Iranian nuclear threat.
The job of attacking Livni was left to the candidates who spoke before Netanyahu: MKs Gideon Sa'ar and Silvan Shalom, former minister Bennie Begin and former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon. Every time any of them mentioned Livni, the crowd booed.
"Anyone who would make the Jordan Valley into the Philadelphi Valley is not fit to lead," Ya'alon said. "Whoever is too tired should be replaced. Whoever thinks time is against us should move to the sidelines even if her party's name means 'forward.'"
Sa'ar mocked Livni for presenting herself as the candidate of change.
He listed Livni's unsuccessful endeavors and said: "This isn't change. This is the same thing and the public doesn't want another term of Kadima's failures."
Ridiculing Livni's comparison of herself to US President Barack Obama, the party handed out shirts to the crowd bearing the words "No, she can't."
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