‘Tremendous risk’ for right to choose small parties over Likud, Hotovely says

Likud’s Tzipi Hotovely, ideologically a religious Zionist, urges voters to choose Likud in order to prevent the left from winning the upcoming election.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely addressed a pre-election event in Beit Shemesh, urging them, as religious Zionists, to vote for Likud rather than the smaller religious parties.

Hotovely, describing herself as “Modern Orthodox,” said she was offered the opportunity on a number of occasions to join the Jewish Home party but declined, instead staying with Likud.

“I don’t believe in the system of serving in a minority group on the national arena,” she explained, adding that it may have been relevant in the early years of the State of Israel, “but not today.”

The Modern Orthodox population is active in the wider Israeli society, she said. They serve in the IDF and are successful professionally and “should also have an effect politically on the national level.”

“The big question is: Who’s going to be the next prime minister,” she continued, noting that Likud could lose to the left if the votes go to the smaller parties instead. It’s not a given that Likud will remain in power if that that happens, she stressed.

“It’s a tremendous risk now to vote for a small party,” she warned.

Blue and White: an ‘IKEA party’

“The left is trying time after time to build a new opposition, an alternative to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” she said. “Bringing in three army generals to the new Blue and White party is something new.”

She referred to Blue and White, headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and former journalist Yair Lapid and which includes former IDF top generals Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi, as an “IKEA party,” saying it was being built by choosing different pieces and putting them together.

Hotovely noted the “incredible pressure from the Europeans to give up Judea and Samaria. Lapid and Gantz are saying the disengagement will happen again,” she said, referring to Gantz’s defense of the pullout from Gaza in 2005 and apparent support for withdrawals from Judea and Samaria in a statement in February.

“Terror bases are built wherever we withdraw,” she declared. “Netanyahu has the guts to stand in front of the world and say we’re not doing this anymore.”

Hotovely also cautioned against voting for Zehut, headed by Moshe Feiglin, who had led a Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction in the Likud but could not reach the top and left to form his new party.

“I know Feiglin 10 years. I was proud of him when he built Manhigut Yehudit…now he’s misleading you. He’ll go with anyone who will accept his terms. And what are his terms? Making Tel Aviv the new Amsterdam,” the Likud politician said, referring to Feiglin’s campaign vow to legalize cannabis.

Netanyahu “is one of the most impressive and unique leaders that we have ever had,” she said. He addressed the U.S. Congress during the Obama administration, urging them to fight against the Iran nuclear deal, “despite criticism. And today we can see the Americans supporting our most important national security issue.”

Hotovely also praised the Israeli leader for Israel’s thriving economy.

“Israel is among the top 10 countries in the world. [Former Prime Ministers and founding fathers of the State of Israel David] Ben-Gurion and [Menachem] Begin wouldn’t believe it.”

Israel a superpower ‘thanks to Likud’

Until the recent discovery of gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea off the Israeli coastline, she continued, “there were no natural resources; 80 percent of the country is desert.

“In the last few years, this tiny country has become a superpower.” So many important countries, like China, are “inspired by Israel…not just thanks to Netanyahu, but thanks to Likud policy.”

Israel was a “socialist, closed-market nation,” run by a Labor party government, until Likud came to power in 1977, she told the crowd.

Hotovely credited the Likud leadership for the most recent diplomatic successes, such as the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Netanyahu’s “heart and soul are in the right place.”

The “main issue” is that the IDF must maintain control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” she said.

Regarding the government’s swift military response to the Hamas rocket that landed Monday morning in north-central Israel, leveling a home to the ground and injuring its residents, World Israel News asked Hotovely why it took an attack in the Sharon region, north of Tel Aviv, for the IDF to launch a major attack on the terrorist group in Gaza. In fact, residents living in close proximity to the Gaza border have been suffering from rocket attacks for years.

Israel faces two major threats, Hotovely replied – “Hamas in the south and Hezbollah and Iran in the north.” According to the deputy minister, it was necessary for the IDF to focus attention on the north, where it recently uncovered and destroyed several terror tunnels.

Israel will choose when to attack Hamas, she added, saying it will not bow to Hamas’s terms and insisting that it was the government’s choice – not that of the terror group, despite the morning missile attack – to hammer Hamas later that same day.

Many on the right – including New Right leader Naftali Bennett and former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, among others – have been criticizing the Netanyahu government for not destroying the Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar, located strategically near the city of Ma’alei Adumim, east of Jerusalem, which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court several months ago.

Asked by World Israel News why the outpost has not been dismantled, Hotovely said that it will be done. She could not answer when, saying only that it will happen when the government decides.