‘Two more seats or Lapid wins’ is Netanyahu’s election day mantra

Prime minister takes to social media to hammer home the claim that left-wing voters are out in droves

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes to Facebook Live to urge his supporters to get the vote out (screen capture)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes to Facebook Live to urge his supporters to get the vote out (screen capture)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent Tuesday morning urging his supporters to get the vote out for his Likud party, stressing that with an additional two seats beyond what the latest polling shows, he will be able to form a stable right-wing coalition.

Between voting and quick campaign stops, Netanyahu did a series of lighthearted Facebook Live and TikTok appearances. He spoke to mayors and activists across the country, hammering home a familiar message — supporters of rival blocs in the center of the country are voting in higher numbers, while Likud voters are dangerously complacent.

He also noted that Israelis are out and about at beaches and restaurants because of the COVID-19 vaccines that he secured for the country.

“Voting percentages in Likud are not good enough,” he said in a phone call with Karmiel Mayor Moshe Kuninski. “I am asking all the Likudniks — go and vote Likud, we are down two seats. The press is trying to put us to sleep, to tell us it’s in the bag. I’m telling you, it’s not in the bag, but it’s close. We must wake up the Likud strongholds, to get the people out, whether it’s getting them out of the house or out of the cafes and restaurants — it’s all good, thanks to the vaccinations we brought.”

“We want two more seats,” he stressed.

Netanyahu also spoke with Likud supporters across the country, asking them if they voted yet while they exclaimed, “Bibi, you are the king!” and “Bibi, we love you!”

Netanyahu returned to the message that if Likud doesn’t get those seats, he might be forced into a rotation agreement with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu at a voting station in Jerusalem, during elections for the Knesset, on March 23, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

“We need two more seats to form a stable right-wing government under Prime Minister Netanyahu dedicated to strengthening Israel’s economy,” Netanyahu campaign manager Aaron Klein told The Times of Israel.

“If Likud voters don’t come out we could have fifth elections or an unstable rotation government, neither of which Israel can afford at this critical time. Israel needs the experienced leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who already got Israel out of two economic crises and will make Israel into the fastest growing economy post-corona.

“We are in the field all day doing everything possible to get out the vote,” he stressed.

הצבענו מחל. עכשיו תורכם. עוד 2 מנדטים לממשלת ימין יציבה – בלי עוד בחירות, בלי רוטציה, בלי לפיד. צאו להצביע ✌️

Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו‎ on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

At 11 a.m., Netanyahu and his wife Sara cast their ballots at Jerusalem’s Beit Chinuch Ironi Gimmel high school.

Like all Israelis, Netanyahu was asked to lower his mask so that election officials at the polling station could confirm that he was indeed who his ID card said he was. “It’s me,” he said to laughs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removes his mask to confirm his identity to election officials, March 23, 2021 (screen capture)

After voting, Netanyahu thanked the public for their concern for his wife Sara while she was hospitalized for an appendectomy.

“You touched our hearts,” he told reporters.

Netanyahu called on all Israelis to vote and refused to comment on what the results will be from within the polling station.

“This is a festival of democracy,” he said. “This is a happy country. Israel is a country where people are smiling.”

“I hope this is the last election,” he added, referring to this being the fourth vote in two years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises Muslim voters that he will ensure that there are direct flights between Israel and Saudi Arabia, March 23, 2021 (screen capture)

In a pivot from previous elections — such as in 2015 when he warned about Arab voters “coming in droves” — Netanyahu continued to reach out to Arab Israelis on Tuesday.

He released a video promising Muslim voters direct flights from Tel Aviv to Mecca, saying he would get it done like he did the Abraham Accords.

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