Likud to warn its voters: We could lose the election

Amid drop in polls, PM reportedly scolds heads of his campaign; party to warn voters against voting for small Right parties.

Netanyahu at campaign launch (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 2)
Netanyahu at campaign launch
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 2)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman’s joint Likud Beytenu list will warn voters in its campaign that if they vote for a satellite party on the Right, the Center-Left could form the next government.
This change in strategy came after polls last week indicated that Likud Beytenu had fallen to as few as 33 Knesset seats, and had lost as many as six seats over the past three weeks to Bayit Yehudi and Shas.
The campaign will stress the importance of Likud Beytenu receiving more votes than the combination of Labor, Yesh Atid and The Tzipi Livni Party, in order to prevent President Shimon Peres from assigning the task of forming the next government to Livni or Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich.
Likud strategist Arthur Finkelstein arrived in Israel on Tuesday and met on Wednesday with Netanyahu and the heads of the Likud campaign. He advised them to stop attacking Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, and instead to reveal extremist and chauvinist statements made by candidates on the Bayit Yehudi candidates list.
The chairman of the Likud campaign, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, immediately took Finkelstein’s advice. At a meeting with students at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan on Wednesday, he criticized Bayit Yehudi’s No. 4 candidate, Rabbi Eli Ben- Dahan, for calling for the cancellation of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and its No. 9 candidate, Moti Yogev, for leading the effort to separate the sexes when he headed the religious-Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva.
The party’s campaign will run under the slogan “Bayit Yehudi: Not what you thought.”
The Likud will also have billboards with positive slogans such as “A Strong Prime Minister for a Strong Israel.”
Netanyahu reportedly scolded the heads of his campaign on Wednesday, complaining about the weakness of his party in the field and demanding cooperation with Likud activists who told him that they were being ignored.
Senior Likud officials also said the party needed to do a better job of staying on-message.
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They complained about recent hawkish statements made by Likud Beytenu candidates Yair Shamir, Yuli Edelstein, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom criticized Feiglin for calling for the money spent on the Iron Dome missile defense system to be spent on bribing Palestinians to move to a different country. In an interview with Army Radio, Shalom called the idea of transferring Arabs illegitimate.
Shalom predicted that the Likud would recover ahead of the January 22 election.
“There is a pattern of us going in a direction that we did not want to go,” he said.
“But the elections are still three weeks away and things could change significantly in that time. The real analysis needs to wait for January 23.”
In an effort to attract young voters, Netanyahu will host a rally with a pub-like atmosphere on Sunday at the trendy Tel Aviv Port. The rally will come in place of visits to actual pubs, which Netanyahu’s rivals have been doing regularly but the prime minister cannot for security reasons.
The Likud canceled an event set for Thursday in Holon out of concern there would be a low turnout, as an event it held with Netanyahu in Upper Nazareth on Sunday was poorly attended.