Netanyahu warns of left election victory if right is divided

The prime minister has repeatedly voiced concern over the potential repercussions of a splintered right. 

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned leaders of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria that the left could prevail in the Knesset election in April.

“The upcoming election must be won. It’s a fight for our home,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday. “The fate of the state and settlements is not self-evident…Under a leftist government, everything could be reversed.”

Netanyahu has often warned of splits on the right of the Israeli political scene, issuing a rebuke recently to Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, the current education and diaspora affairs minister, whom the prime minister has accused of creating upheaval on the right through his frequent challenges to Netanyahu’s leadership and policy. Jewish Home has countered that they are the “true right” and bear the responsibility to keep Netanyahu honest to the ideology.

The prime minister stressed the need to keep his Likud party strong, referring to the 1992 election, when a plethora of right-wing parties were seemingly responsible for creating a split in the vote and ensuring a majority for a Labor government. Led by the late Yitzhak Rabin, Labor pursued agreements with PLO leader Yasser Arafat and formed the Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Ahead of the April ballot, political figures on the center-left have been speaking of the need to join forces in the election in order to gather strength against the right. Public opinion polls published following the announcement of an early ballot, instead of later this year, have shown that support for Netanyahu remains strong, but the prime minister remains concerned over divisions and complacency.

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On Tuesday, Justice Minister Education Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home voiced confidence that if the left unified, the right would respond in kind to ensure that it maintains its strength.