Liberman, Gantz, Netanyahu All Kick Off Third Election Campaign

YERUSHALAYIM -
A combination picture shows Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, it appeared that Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman was kicking off his campaign for the next Knesset race – slamming Blue and White for refusing to join a unity government, after he earlier savagely attacked Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Why are we going to elections,” Liberman said at the event, held as the Knesset was discussing the law to dissolve itself. “The two big parties have 65 MKs between them. They are responsible for these elections. Neither the Likud nor Blue and White wanted a unity government. Both parties don’t care about a wide or narrow government – the objective is to get to 61 MKs without Avigdor Liberman. Blue and White did not want a unity government because of internal issues they could not resolve. They think they are going to get 37 seats in the next Knesset, and the Likud has its own reasons for wanting new elections.” Only Yisrael Beytenu, which throughout demanded nothing less than a unity government, is without blame for the fact that Israelis will be going to the polls for the third time in a year, he said.

Earlier, Liberman laced into Netanyahu, accusing him of being a “foreign agent,” and in his comments Wednesday afternoon, he gave “equal time” to Blue and White. “They acted in a shameful manner, they cheated their voters. I saw Blue and White MKs begging the Chareidim to join them, promising them anything. They were offered a blank sheet of paper to fill out, with Benny Gantz’s signature at the bottom.” Only Yisrael Beytenu, he said, would have the wherewithal to “stand up to the Chareidim.”

Blue and White head Benny Gantz also apparently kicked off his campaign Wednesday, with the central theme being “it’s all Netanyahu’s fault we have to vote again.” Netanyahu, he said at a meeting of a legal forum in Tel Aviv, “is conducting a struggle to get immunity for himself. He has been doing this for two election campaigns, and is likely to try it a third time as well. We will do everything to make sure he does not get immunity,” Gantz said.

For his part, Netanyahu, in inaugurating his campaign for the 23rd Knesset, did not make a speech, but his office announced that on Thursday he would visit the Har Hamor Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. The Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Zvi Yisrael Tau, attended a rally sponsored by Netanyahu two weeks ago, in support of the Prime Minister and in criticism of the prosecution and justice systems. The yeshiva has a reputation for being extremely right-wing on political issues, and many of its graduates live in outposts in Yehudah and Shomron.