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April 8, 2019 5:20 pm

With Less Than 24 Hours Until Vote, Gantz and Netanyahu Appeal to Voters From Smaller Parties

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he visits Mahane Yehuda Market a day ahead of Israeli national elections, in Jerusalem April 8, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

With less than 24 hours until polls open, the Likud party leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Blue and White party head, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, are engaged in a massive last-ditch effort to ensure their parties will be the largest in the Knesset.

In particular, they are pushing for voters to choose their parties and not the array of smaller parties that are also running.

The reason is simple electoral math and the quirks of Israeli election law. Under the Israeli system, after elections, President Reuven Rivlin must consult with all the parties and get their recommendations on which should be asked to form the next government.

As a result, the president usually calls upon the largest party to do so, but this is not always the case. At the moment, most polls show a slight advantage for the Blue and White party, but the right-religious bloc that will most likely recommend Netanyahu is still greater.

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Gantz and Netanyahu, however, both appear to believe that it is most important to be the biggest party in the Knesset. Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid recently stated that if his party is the largest, “no power on earth” will stop it from forming the government, and Netanyahu has confirmed this in hopes of motivating right-wing voters to choose Likud instead of smaller parties like the New Right and the Union of Right-Wing Parties.

Netanyahu indicted as much in a last-minute appeal in a Twitter video, saying, “My friends on the right, I say to you again, the media is trying to put you to sleep. They say, ‘Netanyahu will be prime minister anyway.’ It’s not true.”

“President Rivlin said that if no one has 61 recommendations, he definitely can go with the biggest party,” he explained. “We don’t have 61 recommendations.”

“Lapid and Gantz are ahead of Likud by several mandates,” he added. “So if you want to ensure that they won’t be called upon, that you won’t wake up the morning after the elections and Lapid is prime minister, prime minister of the left, you must vote Likud!”

“If you’re undecided, don’t be undecided — vote Likud!” he urged. “Only a large Likud will prevent a left-wing government. Wake up!”

In a likely attempt to appeal to voters of smaller parties, Netanyahu assured viewers that if Likud is the largest party, “We will take all the right-wing parties and place them in a right-wing government.”

Yediot Aharonot reports that Gantz also sought to appeal to those who might vote for smaller center-left parties like the Labor party, which has risen slightly in recent polls.

To drive the point home, Gantz held an eleventh-hour meeting with dissident Labor party members who have chosen to support him in the current election.

“People understand what they have to do,” he told them, “turn Blue and White, and the path we are leading, into the largest party in these elections.”

“There is nothing more important to these voters than joining us and joining this change,” he asserted.

Speaking of Labor party leader Avi Gabbay, Gantz said that he “must understand that we need to be the largest and to be our partners.”

“We will lead and serve the State of Israel,” Gantz added. “We are half a meter from victory.”

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