Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett urged supporters not to fall into the complacency trap – and not to give their votes to Binyamin Netanyahu, as anxious as they might be to ensure that he, and not Yitzhak Herzog, is chosen by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.

Although the polls showed Jewish Home losing support over the past several weeks, Bennett is optimistic that the party could beat the polls, which show Jewish Home receiving 12 or 13 seats. “Twenty percent of voters make up their minds on the way to the polls,” he said. “That is an opportune time for us to grab them and convince them to vote for us.”

In an interview on Israel Radio Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that if elected, his first phone call would be to Bennett (for the formation of a government), and the second to US President Barack Obama. But Bennett isn't convinced – and the sudden decision by Tzipi Livni to give up her “turn” as Prime Minister, as agreed to by Herzog when the two began the campaign in December, indicates that both Netanyahu and Herzog will be working to form a unity government. “Otherwise there would be no reason for Livni to give up her prize. If this happens, it will be the third time Netanyahu adds leftist elements to his government – Livni was his Justice Minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians during the last government, and in 1999, Ehud Barak was his Defense Minister. Livni was his main coalition partner in the last government.”

Israelis who want a rightwing government would be much better off voting for Jewish Home than the Likud, Bennett said. “We have already seen that when there is a big Likud but a small Jewish Home, that is when tragedies happen – tragedies like the disengagement, Netanyahu's speech in 2013 advocating for a Palestinian state, and the year and a half building freeze in Judea and Samaria Netanyahu imposed.

I would love to believe Netanyahu about his sincerity in bringing us into his government as a main partner, but he said similar things in 2009 to other nationalist parties and in the end refused to include them in the coalition. Also in the 2013 elections he was very right-wing, but after the elections the first phone call he made was to Livni,” said Bennett. “Netanyahu is always very right-wing before elections, but we need to be strong to keep him that way. After all, Ariel Sharon himself said before he was elected that 'Gush Katif is the same as Tel Aviv,' and then proceeded to throw all the Jews out. To prevent that, we need a big Jewish Home,” he added.

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