At a gathering of Likud loyalists in Tel Aviv Thursday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated his claims of innocence in the investigations he has been subject to in recent months – and claimed that instead of hurting him and the party, it was just helping.
“I told you last time that we would get 30 seats in the next Knesset. But now I say it will be 40, or even more,” Netanyahu said. “I am amazed by the support of Israelis for us. People tell me, ‘Watch out for yourself, so you can watch out for us.’” The Likud has persistently been polling strongly in recent weeks. A Geocartigraphia poll from two weeks ago, taken on behalf of the Likud and published in Yisrael Hayom, shows that in new elections the Likud would get 36 seats in a new Knesset – six more than it currently has.
In the event billed as a pre-Pesach gathering for loyalists, Netanyahu said that “next week we will celebrate Pesach. Our people are all one big family, as you know, and in each family there are those who prefer the charoses – that would be most people – and there are those who choose the maror, obviously that is the minority. The maror-lovers, or at least some of them, see Israelis rate themselves, time after time, on the top levels of per capita income, of happiness, of good health. And what do they say to Israelis? That they are living in an ‘imaginary paradise,’ that they are fools. How they consider themselves so important, how they look down upon the rest of us!
“There is an important reason for the widespread support for the Likud, and that is the sense of justice, or rather injustice, that the public is perceiving,” Netanyahu said. “We have many people on our side, and not just Likud supporters. They hear what the media [are] doing, and they feel that there is no chance of refuting their claims. They sense that it’s nothing more than a witch hunt – they have a sense that something isn’t right. They realize that it is happening because our opponents can’t win an election, that they can’t beat us using democratic means.
“They are using unending and inordinate pressure on the authorities to end our government,” Netanyahu said. “But they search and search for evidence, and find nothing – because there is nothing to find. And when they find that the situation is just the opposite, they stay away. The guiding principle is that if it is not Netanyahu-related, they stay away. A large group of MKs sponsored the bill to shut down Yisrael Hayom,” the Prime Minister said, referring to the accusations that he made a deal with Yediot Acharonot publisher Arnon Mozes for better coverage in exchange for supporting the law to ban distribution of Yediot’s rival newspaper. “Those MKs pushed the bill and got excellent coverage in Yediot. But no one is investigating the MKs from Yesh Atid for this. Like I said – if it’s not related to Netanyahu, it’s not a story.
“I believe that the authorities will get to the truth, and will rule justly that there is nothing there – no corruption, or anything else,” the Prime Minister added.