The ruling Likud party filed a complaint Thursday over a Jewish Home ad showing party leader Naftali Bennett standing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the ad would mislead voters into thinking voting for Bennett was like voting for Netanyahu.
Likud’s annoyance at the ad underscores the gadfly role Bennett and his resurgent nationalist party have played. Though Bennett once served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, the two reportedly had a falling out and in the runup to elections the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list has found itself losing support to Jewish Home.
Likud filed a complaint to the Central Election Committee demanding it strike down the ad campaign, which was to be launched early Friday.
Likud claimed the ad, which shows the leaders standing together and features the slogan “strong together,” was designed “to steal the minds of the right bloc voters, mislead them and instill in their consciousness through manipulation the mendacious message … of ‘Do not vote for [Likud-Beytenu]… We have enough votes and victory is assured.'”
Jewish Home, which sits to the right of Netanyahu’s party and sees itself as a natural partner should Netanyahu try to form a hard-line government, has been campaigning on the idea that a vote for it is a vote for Likud-Beytenu and Jewish Home, since polls show Netanyahu cruising to an easy reelection come January 22.
Likud also claimed the campaign was designed to broadcast a false message regarding an agreement between Netanyahu and Bennett to include the Jewish Home in the next government coalition. Likud says there is no such agreement.
A Jewish Home representative said the ad is intended to convey the message the party intends to work together with Netanyahu toward a stronger Israel.