Netanyahu's Likud asks Israelis who will protect settlements from Biden

The Likud campaign confirmed that the message was authentic, while distancing itself from its content.

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden reacts during a televised townhall on CNN dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California, US October 10, 2019.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)
Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden reacts during a televised townhall on CNN dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California, US October 10, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)
A text message sent out by the Likud campaign on Wednesday referred to protecting settlements from US President Joe Biden.
“Who will protect settlements from the new administration in the US?” the message asks, giving the options of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, Religious Zionist chairman Bezalel Smotrich and New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar.
The Likud Party identified itself as the source of the message, as required by law.

 
The Likud campaign confirmed that the message was authentic, while distancing itself from its content.
 

An SMS sent by the Likud Party to voters asks which candidate would help protect the settlements from Joe Biden. The options are Netanyahu, Bennett, Smotrich and Sa'ar. (Photo credit: Screenshot)An SMS sent by the Likud Party to voters asks which candidate would help protect the settlements from Joe Biden. The options are Netanyahu, Bennett, Smotrich and Sa'ar. (Photo credit: Screenshot)
Although the message was signed and sent by the Likud Party, campaign manager Aaron Klein and Netanyahu’s political spokesman, Yonatan Urich, both said the concept of protecting settlements from Biden is “not a campaign message, and not something the prime minister says.”
Rather, they said, it is one in a series of text messages used to gather data about voters. If someone were to respond with one of the candidates’ names, the campaign could then send targeted messages meant to sway them to vote for the Likud.
The message is “one of about 100 questions we use. We throw out all kinds of messages,” Urich said.
The messages are written by a data-gathering company that the Likud employs, which Urich declined to name, and are not all directly approved by senior campaign officials, he said.
The message about protecting settlements from Biden went out to 60,000 religious Zionists, Klein said.
Biden is a longtime opponent of settlements, going back to his first visit to Israel in 1973, in which he spoke out against them to then-prime minister Golda Meir.
In 1982, Biden confronted then-prime minister Menachem Begin about the matter, when the latter met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden reportedly banged on his desk and pointed his finger at Begin. Begin famously responded: “I’m not a Jew with trembling knees.... You will not frighten me with threats.”
In 2010, the government announced 1,600 new housing units in Jerusalem while Biden, then vice president, was visiting Israel, and this led to a diplomatic flap.