Threshold parties begin 'gevalt' campaigns as time runs out

The latest polls show PM Lapid's Yesh Atid rising and Meretz barely making it over the threshold of 3.25%.

 Zehava Galon following her victory in the Meretz leadership primary on August 23, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Zehava Galon following her victory in the Meretz leadership primary on August 23, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Meretz launched a campaign on Wednesday calling on people to vote for them so that they do not fall under the electoral threshold, as Yesh Atid continues to grow at its expense.

The campaign, which is known as a “Gevalt” (Alarm!) campaign, began as recent polls found Meretz dropping to four seats, not far above the electoral threshold of 3.25% of all votes. If the party does not pass the threshold, its votes will not be counted in the final tally and it could be the difference in a very tight race.

“I think that Prime Minister Lapid until now has shown responsibility for the bloc, but now, out of an urge to compete with Bibi and show that he can reach his numbers, he is not taking into account that the largest disaster for Meretz would be if people will go and vote for the head of the largest party,” Meretz leader Zehava Galon said in an interview on Army Radio.

Three hours later, Galon uploaded a video repeating this message.

“I returned to Meretz when it was under the electoral threshold and our base returned and we were on five-six mandates. My fear is that the moment it becomes a campaign about the head of the largest party, Lapid head-to-head against Netanyahu, Meretz may be erased, and then Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] and [Itamar] Ben-Gvir will be in government. Lapid will be head of the largest party, but he will be the opposition head and Bibi will be prime minister.

 Ben Gvir gestures during an Otzma Yehudit rally, October 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Ben Gvir gestures during an Otzma Yehudit rally, October 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

"What matters is not the size of the party but the size of the bloc. We already announced that we would recommend Lapid [as prime minister].”

Meretz leader Zehava Galon

What matters is not the size of the party but the size of the bloc. We already announced that we would recommend Lapid [as prime minister],” she added.

Habayit Hayehudi leader, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, has been using a similar argument for weeks, but after announcing at a press conference on Tuesday that she was not going to drop out of the race, she also stepped up her attempts on Wednesday to convince right-wing voters to choose her.

The Likud, meanwhile, published a video arguing that a vote for Shaked will be a vote wasted.

“A vote for Ayelet = a vote to bring down the Right,” Likud wrote on Twitter along with the video. “The election is as close as ever and not one right-wing vote can be wasted!” the party wrote.

Ben-Gvir as minister could harm Israel's foreign relations

In other political developments on Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz claimed in an interview on Walla! TV that Ben-Gvir becoming a minister will harm Israel’s foreign relations.

“I think that dragging us to extremist positions will not serve the State of Israel and will cause damage in its international relations. Extremist declarations without any content behind them are dangerous for the State of Israel,” Gantz said.

Ben-Gvir responded, “Gantz’s weakness facing terror, leads to [terror] raising its head – and causes the international community to view Israel as a weak state that cannot defend itself,” he said.

“I hope that the people in the Likud who want to put Gantz into the government at our expense wake up and understand – Gantz is a dangerous leftist. This mistake cannot be allowed to happen,” he added.