Party leaders campaign after PM's opening shot

Rivlin: Knesset will not pass "populist, irresponsible legislation" before it is dissolved.

Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Election campaigns officially began moments after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Tuesday night that the vote would take place as soon as possible.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he will make sure the Knesset is dissolved as soon as possible after the opening of the winter session next Monday.
Speaking during an official visit in Moscow, Rivlin praised Netanyahu for calling an election, because the current Knesset cannot make important, national decisions.
The Knesset speaker said Netanyahu consulted with him before his official announcement, and that Rivlin said he will not allow “populist, irresponsible legislation” to be brought to a vote in the Knesset in the days before it is officially dissolved.
Rivlin added that he does not see a problem calling the Knesset to vote on urgent and essential matters during the election recess.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said his party, Yisrael Beytenu, is prepared for elections and will continue its history of increasing the party’s Knesset share after every election.
“Yisrael Beytenu played a significant role in maintaining the country’s national character and in the responsibility and stability of this government,” he stated. “Yisrael Beytenu will continue to be central, influential and responsible after the election.”
Interior Minister Eli Yishai hinted that Shas was responsible for the election announcement, saying that even after the election, his party will not support “a government that tramples the middle class and the weaker sectors.”
“The next election will be about the cost of living, losing pensions and the prices of products that reached record highs,” Yishai said.
“There is no argument about the need to take care of the Iranian topic and the only dispute is about social issues. Shas will bring social justice.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the public should vote for him if they want what is good for Israel. He professed uncertainty that he would get his portfolio back but touted his achievements in the area of defense.
“Independence has a clear message in areas of security, social issues and talks with the Palestinians,” Barak told Channel 2.
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz pointed out that Habayit Hayehudi is currently in the middle of a primary.
After that, he said, the party will unite all of religious Zionism and go to elections with a large, varied team.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said her party is the only alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud.
Speaking from Brussels, where she is attending a European Parliament conference, Yacimovich said “Labor revived in an unprecedented way an essential agenda for Israel: a fair economy and just society.”
“The public who put its faith in the Labor Party understands that security is not just about borders but secure income, health, a roof to live under and food in the refrigerator,” she stated. “This election will decide between two paths: Will we live in a jungle where the stronger ones take all, or an enlightened, moral society?” Yacimovich called for election campaigns to be civilized and deal with values. Earlier Tuesday, the Labor leader said she would prefer if the election were held on January 29.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) called Tuesday “a day of hope for Israel’s citizens.
After four years of Likud’s rule under Netanyahu, Israel is isolated, lost its power of deterrence and has no policy to support the middle class.”
Mofaz said Kadima under his leadership is the only alternative to Likud, mentioning his credentials as a former IDF chief of staff and defense minister.
“Whoever wants to replace Netanyahu should join me. It’s possible,” he stated.
Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who has yet to announce her return to politics, wrote an anti-Netanyahu note on Facebook, which she prefaced by saying that it does not have anything to do with her personally.
“In the last four years, Israel has become isolated and closed – the diplomatic process, which was the only way to keep Israel a Jewish state, was frozen, the words ‘Jewish state’ were taken over by religious extremists, social gaps deepened and the inequality in the burden of national service increased,” Livni began. “This is not a natural disaster, it is a direct result of the Netanyahu government’s policies.”
Immediately following the prime minister’s announcement, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz sent a long email to supporters, which ended with a link to a website where recipients can donate funds to his party.
“Meretz is the only party that will not jump into the open arms of Netanyahu the day after elections and cuddle with haredim and settlers,” he wrote. “Meretz is the only one committed to replacing the current government with a Center-Left one.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said the election indicates a failure of the government system, since Netanyahu was unable to pass his budget and called for the system to be changed.
National Union praised Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections, because it “gives the Zionist, religious public [a chance] to finally take its place on the political court.” The party predicted that in a united list with Habayit Hayehudi, the national-religious population will receive 12 seats in the next Knesset.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) called Netanyahu’s government “a failure in social, economic and diplomatic areas,” saying it survived only because there was not a true opposition.
“UAL-Ta’al, the largest Arab faction, is prepared for elections and will continue to lead,” he added.