Likud shifts strategy to positive campaign
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Pool / Haim Zach)
PM kicks off Likud-Beytenu campaign with promise to continue settlement construction "despite international pressure."
Four weeks before the January 22 election, the Likud changed its strategy from negative to positive Tuesday, emphasizing the achievements of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rather than the faults of his political opponents.The change came amid public opinion polls indicating that the Likud had steadily fallen in support since Netanyahu decided to run on a joint list with former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.Likud Beytenu unveiled two new election ads, one featuring ordinary Israelis from all sectors saying they would vote for the list, and the other under the slogan “When Netanyahu talks, people listen,” showcasing the prime minister’s top speeches in English around the world.Netanyahu and Liberman came on stage together at the joint list’s opening rally Tuesday night at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Liberman said it was the first time they had made a joint appearance on that stage since the Likud’s victory party in 1996. The achievements Netanyahu listed in his speech at the event included the Iron Dome missile defense system, the international effort to prevent Iran’s nuclearization, 400,000 new jobs, improving education figures, stopping migrants from infiltrating the country, and bringing home captive soldier Gilad Schalit. He promised to lower housing costs the way cellular costs had fallen dramatically.The prime minister urged Israelis not to “waste their vote” on small sectarian parties, promising that the larger his faction was, the more he would be able to deliver in his next term on key issues like equalizing the burden of IDF service and changing the electoral system.Liberman, meanwhile, attacked the Left for its concessions to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In contrast to his messages four years ago when he ran at the helm of Yisrael Beytenu, he said votes for parties to the Right of the Likud weakened the prime minister.“The enlightened Left tried to divide Jerusalem, but Abu Mazen said ‘nyet,’” Liberman said. “The difference between us and the Left is that we want a built Jerusalem, and they want a divided Jerusalem. Who will know how to deal with threats from Hamas: Yair [Lapid] or Bibi [Netanyahu]? The threat from Hezbollah: Tzipi [Livni] or Bibi? The Iranian threat: Shelly [Yacimovich] or Bibi?”