Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu wasted no time after the dispersal of the Knesset on Thursday, kicking off his election campaign by touring a mall in Jerusalem and pledging to try and lower rising prices if he wins the upcoming election, set to take place November 1.
Hours after the parliament voted to disband itself Thursday morning, calling the country’s fifth election since 2019, the opposition leader visited Jerusalem’s Malcha Mall and drew cheers from unexpecting bystanders, according to a social media video posted by the former prime minister.
Chants of “Bibi – king of Israel,” and “Only Bibi,” were heard as the longtime former leader walked between stores, accompanied by a team of bodyguards.
Entering a bakery, he asked the staff about the prices of sugar and bread and vowed to take down prices if he is reelected as prime minister — as some early opinion polls have predicted could happen.
“Prices have gone up because of this bad government. We will take it down and take down prices as well. That is our first mission,” he claimed.
Netanyahu later entered a supermarket and walked over to the fruit section. Holding an apple, he turned to the crowd and asked: “Have prices gone up? Do you want them to go down? Take down this government and vote for us!”
Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges he denies, served as prime minister for 12 successive years until being ousted from power a year ago by an ideologically diverse group of eight parties.
The Knesset voted to disperse on Thursday, with Yair Lapid becoming Israel’s 14th prime minister at midnight between Thursday and Friday.
Recent polls have suggested another close election battle between parties supporting and opposing Netanyahu
Whereas Netanyahu and his allies (Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism) won 52 seats in the March 2021 elections that led to the Bennett-Lapid coalition, more recent polls have shown the Netanyahu-led bloc now rising to 58-60 seats in the 120-member house, on the cusp of a majority. Together with the Yamina party — now led by Ayelet Shaked rather than outgoing premier Naftali Bennett — Netanyahu could clinch a majority for a narrow, right-wing coalition.
However, current political alliances may shift, parties could merge or drop out of the race, and new parties could join it. Furthermore, several parties are polling close to the 3.25% threshold for Knesset representation and may fail to pass it, potentially shaking up the political landscape.
Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.