By MATI TUCHFELD, ISRAEL HAYOM—
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is signaling to right-wing voters that there is a real danger that he and his Likud Party could lose the leadership of Israel to Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni in the national election next week.
In a conversation with Israel Hayom, Netanyahu said that “some right-wing voters mistakenly believed that I will be elected no matter what, so they decided to support other parties. But we can’t afford in this election. The danger that Tzipi and Herzog will rise to power with the help of Yair Lapid and the Joint Arab List is more tangible than ever.”
“The only way to ensure that the next government is headed by the national camp is to vote for Likud,” he added. Touching on the Israeli practice where the head of every party makes a recommendation as to who they feel should assemble the coalition and lead the government, Netanyahu stressed that “ Kahlon and Lieberman have not pledged to recommend me. Moreover, Kahlon’s No. 2 Yoav Galant, specifically said he would recommend Herzog. So if you want me as prime minister, you have to vote for Likud.”
The prime minister declared that his famous address at Bar-Ilan University in 2009, in which he first called for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was no longer relevant. “The reality has shifted. Today, every territory that we evacuate will be taken over by radical Islamists under the auspices of Iran. That is what happened when we pulled out of Lebanon and it is what happened when we evacuated Gaza, and we must not allow it to happen in Judea and Samaria as well. That is why there will not be any evacuations.”
Netanyahu declared that his next government will neither release Palestinian prisoners nor freeze construction in the settlements.
Netanyahu also lashed out at former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who criticized him at an anti-Netanyahu rally last Saturday. “I don’t understand how Dagan, who cursed me and insulted me, asked twice to serve as Mossad director under me. I approved his first request, and rejected his second, and perhaps as a result of that he is coming after me for personal reasons. Of course I don’t agree with his left-wing agenda. He was wrong when he forecast that the Muslim Brotherhood would not seek the leadership of Egypt. In the end, not only did they seek it, they succeeded in achieving it. My job as prime minister is to lead the country in a sober manner. People who supported Oslo haven’t sobered up yet and still believe their own delusions. Security cannot be founded on delusions.”
On Wednesday, Netanyahu told supporters in Netanya that “I am telling our friends in the national camp that anyone who wants to vote for another right-wing party is actually increasing that risk. Because the fewer votes Likud gets, and the wider the gap grows, so does the danger that Tzipi and Herzog will assemble the next coalition. That is why it is imperative not to vote for other parties.”
At the start of his address, Netanyahu remarked on the choice of the Park Hotel in Netanya as the venue. In 2002, 30 Israelis were murdered at the same hotel in a Passover eve suicide bombing. “We remember those days and we are determined to make sure that they never return. Over the last six years we have undergone the kind of enormous upheaval that we haven’t seen here in almost a hundred years — one regional earthquake that created upheaval and is now affecting all the countries in the region. Nations are collapsing, and radical Islam is insinuating itself into the cracks that emerge and washing over the entire region. It is sending its deadly tentacles in the direction of our borders in the north and the south. We are fighting it, and unlike other countries we have managed to maintain security. We are fighting against the biggest patron of terrorism — Iran.”
Netanyahu remarked that “in the past, the border was right here, in the suburbs of Netanya. Astoundingly, there are people who want the restore that border to where it was. No us. Not me. I won’t allow that to happen. We are looking out for security. We don’t want terrorists to be able to get here. We know that if we are not there, they will be here. It takes standing up to the efforts to restore the pre-1967 borders and the efforts to divide Jerusalem. I will never divide Jerusalem, the same way I will never want to go back to pre-1967 borders.”