Lapid vs. Netanyahu: 2022 election campaigns to begin this week

The latest poll published on Friday had the Likud headed by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu winning 34 seats and Prime Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid winning 22 seats.

 Israeli foreign minister and Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid walks next to Head of opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu at the assembly hall for a special session in memory of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, on November 8, 2021.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli foreign minister and Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid walks next to Head of opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu at the assembly hall for a special session in memory of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, on November 8, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Political parties start their election campaigns this week, with all the polls indicating that the two largest parties will be the Likud and Yesh Atid.

The latest poll published on Friday had the Likud headed by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu winning 34 seats and Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid capturing 22.

Netanyahu requested on Friday that he receive his monthly security update as opposition leader from military secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, rather than from Lapid himself. Netanyahu said that this demand was in order to “depoliticize” the updates.

He has already been receiving updates from Gil since Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government with Lapid was formed in June 2021, because Netanyahu reportedly refused to meet with Bennett in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu scored a political victory on Thursday when MK Yuli Edelstein announced that he would not run against him for the head of the party, after announcing in October that he was planning to do so. It is unclear whether anyone from within his party will challenge him for the party leadership.

 Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

In his speech during the debate on the Knesset’s dispersal on Thursday, Netanyahu outlined three main platforms for his campaign: The high cost of living; the loss of “national” pride under Bennett and Lapid; and countering Iran.

Another point central to the Likud’s campaign will be to show that Lapid will not be able to govern without help from the Arab parties. In an interview with Yediot Ahronot that was published on Friday, Bennett’s chief diplomatic advisor Shimrit Meir said that Lapid had intended to give the Joint List an “open check” in return for their support in Knesset votes after the coalition lost its majority in the Knesset.

What's changed for Lapid since the 2021 campaign?

Yesh Atid’s campaign will run while Lapid is serving as prime minister. The party intends to take full advantage of this, beginning with Lapid hosting US President Joe Biden later this month. The Likud already argued in response to Lapid’s first speech as prime minister on Saturday night that he was being given unfair press time.

Yesh Atid has also held talks with former Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, according to Channel 13. Eisenkot’s tenure as head of the IDF is widely viewed as being successful, and joining Yesh Atid could provide the party with a significant boost. Eisenkot reportedly is also being courted by Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.

In last year’s election, Lapid purposely refrained from presenting himself as a candidate for prime minister so as not to enable the Likud to use that as fuel for their campaign. As prime minister, this is now irrelevant, and Lapid is expected to run as the leader of the Center-Left and the anti-Bibi camp.

Another expected change in the Yesh Atid campaign is that it will no longer be willing to give upvotes to smaller left-wing parties such as Meretz so as to ensure that they pass the election threshold.

Towards the end of last year’s election campaign, Lapid encouraged deliberating voters to vote for Meretz. However, as prime minister and leader of a party that is polling above 20 seats, Lapid will try to grow as much as possible in order to position his party as a true alternative to the Likud.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.