Likud ambivalent on killing Yisrael Beytenu

Yisrael Beytenu might not receive the 130,000 votes needed to cross the 3.25 percent threshold.

Avigdor Liberman and Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avigdor Liberman and Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has mixed feelings about the possibility of Yisrael Beytenu not crossing the electoral threshold, sources close to him said on Tuesday.
Haaretz has reported that Likud did not want Yisrael Beytenu in the next Knesset and that the Likud had decided to show Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party no mercy due to the shaky relationship between him and Netanyahu. Makor Rishon reported the opposite, that the Likud was being careful not to attack Yisrael Beytenu out of fear that too harsh a blow would kill an ally.
When asked which report was correct, a source close to Netanyahu said they both were even though they contradicted each other.
“We obviously would like to win over a majority of their vote, but it would be dangerous to lose a valuable coalition partner who would recommend that President Reuven Rivlin entrust Netanyahu with forming the government,” the source said.
If Yisrael Beytenu does not receive the 130,000 votes needed to cross the 3.25 percent threshold, its votes will be thrown away and the pool of votes divided among the parties that do pass will be smaller so they would all gain. In the 2013 election, some 269,000 votes were cast for parties that did not pass the threshold (then 2%), representing 7.1% of the votes.
Army Radio reported on Tuesday that the Likud was considering forming a joint faction after the election to encourage Rivlin to appoint Netanyahu to form the government.
A source close to the president said factions could not legally unite the Knesset convenes, which would be after he appoints a party head to form the government, so it would make no difference.
“We intend to be the largest faction after the election on our own,” Likud strategist Aron Shaviv tweeted in response to the report.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog attacked Netanyahu on the prime minister’s favorite subject on Tuesday when he said that “Bibi has failed to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.”
He told an organization of lawyers in Tel Aviv that “Netanyahu had become so desperate that he was willing to destroy Israel’s relations with the US to deliver an unimportant speech in Washington.”
Herzog said his first task as prime minister would be to repair Israel’s relations with the US.
Netanyahu’s campaign said in response that his primary obligation was to ensure the security of Israeli citizens by preventing the nuclearization of Iran. The campaign said that if Herzog would be elected, his “leftist, weak policy of concessions” would receive applause around the world but would harm Israel’s security.”