Netanyahu, Zionist Union spar on security matters

PM: Livni is dangerous; Livni: Netanyahu surrendered

ZIONIST UNION members visit the Black Arrow monument in the Gaza periphery yesterday. (photo credit: ZIONIST UNION SPOKESMAN)
ZIONIST UNION members visit the Black Arrow monument in the Gaza periphery yesterday.
A day after the release of State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s report on how public funds have been spent at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, the heads of both the Likud and the Zionist Union shifted their focus Wednesday to security issues.
The two parties were trying to divert attention from the comptroller’s report – the Likud because it wants the election to be about security, and the Zionist Union out of concern that focusing on the report too much would boomerang and help Netanyahu, according to sources in both parties.
Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni toured the Gaza periphery with their joint list’s security figures.
They promised on the tour to bring security to the area.
“Netanyahu chose to be photographed in the settlement of Eli, but we prefer the Gaza periphery,” Herzog said, referring to the prime minister’s visit to the West Bank settlement the previous week.
“Our security outlook will be based on defense, deterrence, and changing our strategy to initiating and building a future and a horizon,” Herzog continued.
“Gaza remains a ticking time bomb, and Netanyahu failed against Hamas.”
Livni said that after last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu had rejected a proposal she had brought to the cabinet in September: to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions while working to demilitarize Gaza and to replace the Hamas government.
“If Netanyahu were responsible, the situation in Gaza and its periphery would be different now,” she said. “But instead of adopting my proposal, Bibi [Netanyahu] preferred to say yes to Hamas.”
The prime minister responded in a speech to Likud activists in Ashkelon by calling Livni a danger to the state. He slammed her for saying she would not negotiate with Hamas, even though she had met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a few days before he signed a unity deal with the terrorist organization.
“The press carnival about the comptroller’s report is a smokescreen intended to enable Tzipi Livni and Buji [Herzog] to become prime minister,” Netanyahu said. “If they are elected, they will go to Ramallah and make concessions that would create a second Hamastan in Judea and Samaria.”
Livni then responded to Netanyahu by saying, “The man who surrendered to Hamas on the military battlefield and to Abbas on the diplomatic battlefield is the last man who can preach to anyone on security. I was there, and I know.”
In its efforts to persuade Center-Left voters to choose a party other than the Zionist Union, the Likud also released a video mocking Livni. In the clip, a delivery man from “Buji Pizza” insists on supplying a life-sized cardboard cutout along with the pie. When the recipient protests, the pizza man says Livni comes with the pizza automatically.
The Likud’s strategists said there would be more clips targeting Livni, whose favorability rating is much lower than Herzog’s.
In turn, the Zionist Union, which promised two weeks ago not to release any humorous clips, mocked Netanyahu in a new video Wednesday. In a parody of the Likud’s attempt to shift blame for overspending at the prime minister’s residence to disgruntled former housekeeper Meni Naftali, the video blames Naftali for all of the country’s security and socioeconomic problems.
The Labor Youth organization held a protest outside Naftali’s home on Wednesday to add to the new campaign.
The first polls taken following the release of Shapira’s report found that the Likud was damaged, but not by much. In a Dialog poll broadcast on Channel 10, the Likud lost one seat from last week, falling behind the Zionist Union’s 23 seats to 22. Thirty percent of undecided voters said they would be less likely to vote Likud due to the report.
A Shiluv poll taken for Army Radio found that among people who intended to vote Likud, 22% said the comptroller’s report had made it less likely. However, 18% said they were now more likely to cast ballots for the party.