Less than two weeks ahead of the elections, Israeli politicians made last-ditch efforts Saturday to persuade citizens to vote for them, trying to convince the public that they needed more power in order to guard the people’s interests and guide the country through a complex web of security, social and financial concerns.
Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said that despite the left-center bloc’s failure to unite against reigning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there was still a chance that he could be replaced and that she could form the next government.
“Netanyahu is weaker than ever before,” said Yachimovich, adding that the Likud alone, without Yisrael Beytenu — with which it has partnered for the January 22 elections — would have won 21 seats at most.
“If the Labor Party wins 25 seats, the president [Shimon Peres] will ask me to assemble the government. I know the chances are not high, but they certainly exist,” she said. Polls show Labor heading for 17-18 seats.
She also criticized Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni for “making a terrible mistake” and refusing to partner her in the early stages of the election campaign. She urged Livni to announce that she would not sit in Netanyahu’s government and that she would recommend Yachimovich for prime minister.
Livni, for her part, said that she would “not sit in a government with a Bennett policy,” referring to right-wing Jewish Home Party head Naftali Bennett –- considered a “natural” coalition partner for Netanyahu.
“The stronger I am, the stronger my influence will be on a policy that will work with the world instead of against it,” Livni said.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, meanwhile, said the issue the new government would have to confront most urgently was the inequality at home.
“There is no country in the world that can survive when half of its citizens don’t participate in the game — neither socially, nor financially, nor security-wise,” said Lapid, once again stating that the ultra-Orthodox would have to be drafted and integrated into the workforce.
Israel “cannot afford” another three to four years “in which the plundering of public funds continues” to the detriment of the middle class, Lapid concluded.