In a novel attempt at shaping the electoral campaign, the Likud party on Wednesday sought to persuade Israeli pollsters to label Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party as part of the political left, according to The Times of Israel.
Likud campaign director Ofer Golan wrote to survey takers, pointing to Liberman’s new vote-surplus sharing agreement with the Blue and White party—usually described as centrist—as evidence that “establishes the fact that from now on Yisrael Beytenu is a part of the left-wing bloc.”
The Likud has been using the rebranding tactic against Liberman in various campaign statements, but this was something new.
Liberman identifies himself as a right-wing nationalist. He resides in Nokdim, south of Beit Lechem, and has often called for a tougher policy toward Hamas and terrorists in general. On a future peace settlement, he has advocated trading some Arab population centers in Israel while retaining most of Yehudah and Shomron in a two-state deal.
However, on social issues in the current campaign Liberman has been courting Russian and left-secularist voters with a relentless anti-chareidi message, claiming to be opposed to “religious coercion.”
Liberman has downplayed the vote-sharing deal with Blue and White as “a technical step only.” It’s a common arrangement whereby one party receives the other’s unneeded ballots — those that don’t add up to an extra Knesset seat, but would give the recipient enough for another seat.
There was no immediate response from pollsters, though it seemed doubtful they would accede to the Likud.