Israel Elections: Party leaders make final calls for support

Leaders of Yisrael Beytenu, Religious Zionist, Labor, Meretz and Blue and White

Illustration of  voting notes in the Israeli general elections on March 02, 2020. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Illustration of voting notes in the Israeli general elections on March 02, 2020.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
In a round of interviews days before Israel's election on Tuesday, leaders of smaller political parties spoke and shared their goals – and urged the public to vote for them. 
Speaking to Channel 12, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman called for the formation of a "national liberal" government without the ultra-Orthodox parties, which have already expressed their intentions to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. 
Liberman also spoke about the importance of secular voters coming out in greater numbers at the polls, saying there are too many secular Israelis not voting, who he says can give many additional mandates to secular parties. 
Regarding the controversy around Nicole Raidman, who said in an interview that Liberman holds anti-LGBT views, the Yisrael Beytenu leader said he unequivocally supports full right for LGBT Israelis. 
Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionist Party, also spoke with Channel 12. During the interview, he argued that Israelis who want a "true right-wing government" should vote for him.
On a recent controversy regarding LGBT rights and factions of the Religious Zionist Party, which included comments from Smotrich against expanding rights for LGBT people, he said that Liberman was recruited by the Left despite saying racist comments in the past.
When pressed on the LGBT issue, Smotrich said he is against gay marriage because it contravenes the Torah.
He also indicated that he doesn't want to become prime minister. 
Nitzan Horowitz, head of the Meretz Party, likewise spoke in an interview with Channel 12, where he expressed his concern that Meretz will not cross the electoral threshold on Tuesday. 
"I am definitely concerned about the situation," Horowitz said.  
"This time, Meretz is important in terms of values, so that there will be a left-wing party in the Knesset. What's more, if Meretz does not enter the Knesset, Netanyahu will attain 61 seats. Therefore, it is critical," Horowitz added.
Addressing a recent controversy in Meretz also regarding LGBT issues, whereby Rinawie Zoabi, fourth on the party's list, expressed her support for conversion therapy, he said that she made a mistake in her comments, which she corrected. 
Horowitz added that he intends to submit an anti-conversion therapy law upon returning to the Knesset. 
On the relationship between Labor and Meretz, Horowitz said that the Labor Party is a sister party, but that it is essential that Meretz crosses the electoral threshold. 
Labor leader Merav Michaeli said during the Channel 12 interview that future cooperation between her party and the ultra-Orthodox parties is possible, adding that they share much in common.
"I cooperated with the ultra-Orthodox in the opposition. We have many things in common. I am interested in finding the common good," she said.
Michaeli also expressed the need to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, saying that her party will return to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's path.
"We are returning to the path of Rabin – which is a solution to the conflict, changing the priorities in the State of Israel and equality." 
On the Iran issue, Michaeli said that Labor supported the 2015 Nuclear Agreement because it is in Israel's interests. She also attacked Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, saying he supported Netanyahu staying in power. 
Gantz spoke earlier in an interview with Channel 12 on Friday, where he pledged not to join a Netanyahu-led government, while also saying that his decision to join a unity government was motivated by genuine concern over the coronavirus. 
All of his decisions, he said, were motivated by concern for Israel.