Netanyahu in Last-Minute Media Blitz: Right, Likud in Danger of Falling

YERUSHALAYIM -
An IDF soldier arranges ballot papers inside a mobile voting booth, as soldiers vote two days before polling stations open in the rest of Israel, at a military post outside the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conducted a media blitz Sunday and Monday, granting interviews to all major newspapers, radio and broadcast media outlets. Netanyahu’s message in most of the interviews: Victory is not assured for the right, and anyone who wants to prevent a repeat of past elections in which the Likud was not the largest party in the Knesset – and thus did not form the government – had better vote for his party.

Speaking Monday to Radio 103, Netanyahu said that he was having trouble sleeping at night “because I am worried. In 2015 I warned everyone that according to the polls Tzippy Livni and Yitzchak Herzog will become the prime ministers, and the public listened. The media did not understand what was going on. Now they say that we are leading but we are not leading. They are trying to put our camp to sleep, to keep our voters at home.

“But it is not true – our polls show that Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid have a 5-percent edge over our voters, Netanyahu said. “If we are not the largest party the President will ask them to form the government. Do not listen to the media. I am not crying wolf. This almost happened in 2015 and we prevented it. We cannot take a chance, the Likud must be the largest party.” Netanyahu added that right-wing parties would not lose out if the Likud was bigger, and that all of them would pass the electoral threshold.

Netanyahu also speculated on why there was so much media animus toward him. “It’s simple, I have upset their entire conception of what ‘peace’ means. They believe that the way to peace is to get the agreement of the Palestinians, and from there the agreement of the Arab world, and from there the agreement of the world. I am just the opposite. I use the strength of Israel to get leaders to agree to our way, and from there the Arab world agrees, and from there the Palestinians agree. They can’t forgive that I upset their conception of how to make peace,” he said, adding that they were also “jealous” of his accomplishments.

“In the past decade I turned Israel into a world power, all the leaders of the world come here,” Netanyahu said. “Just in the past two weeks I met with President Trump and President Putin, and I brought back Zvi Baumel, in addition to meeting with Brazilian President Bolsonaro. Lapid and Gantz want to turn the free economy we created into a Histadrut economy headed by Avi Nissenkorn. My way is the opposite of theirs. I build on our strength, both military and economic.”

Netanyahu reiterated his claim that he would impose Israeli sovereignty on all Israeli towns in Yehudah and Shomron. “I have already discussed this with President Trump and told him that in the end we would have no choice. But to do that I need a big Likud,” he added.