Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday summoned municipal leaders of West Bank settlements and asked them to throw their weight behind his Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list in the upcoming elections.
Netanyahu’s entreaty, delivered to a large group of mayors and regional council heads, was apparently an attempt to block the surging Jewish Home party
“I’m in need of your support. We need you to get the residents to vote Likud,” the prime minister said, arguing that a larger share of Knesset seats for his party would make Israel analogous to “a stable and responsible aircraft carrier” with the ability to take a “strong and sturdy stance.”
Netanyahu’s appeal comes on the heels of polls showing the Jewish Home party under its new leader Naftali Bennett gaining seats at the expense of the Likud-Beytenu slate.
Several of the municipal leaders expressed their displeasure with some of Netanyahu’s decisions while in office. Among other charges, they noted that three years ago the government became the first in Israel’s history to freeze all construction beyond the Green Line for 10 months, and two weeks ago decided to evict Jews from the Beit Ezra building in Hebron.
They also asked why Netanyahu had yet to adopt the Levy report, which recommended the legalization of most of the unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.
“That is why we need a large and strong Likud, so that there are no small coalition members to extort us,” the prime minister replied. “It’s obvious to all of you that this government has done a great deal in the past four years for the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and we’re asking you to help spread the information among the residents of your districts.”