Israeli minister Regev: ‘The goal: 40 seats for Likud under Netanyahu’

At national Likud event, party ministers blast other factions • Nearly 70 percent of attendees say that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have to resign if he is indicted.

Israeli Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev speaks to the press at the sports ministry’s offices in Tel Aviv on June 6, 2018. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.
Israeli Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev speaks to the press at the sports ministry’s offices in Tel Aviv on June 6, 2018. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

The Likud Party was triumphant at the right-wing Leumiada event held this weekend in Eilat, and used the gathering as a chance to drive home its campaign messages.

Israel’s Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev discussed a stormy conference the Labor Party central committee held on Jan. 10, saying that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Shimon Peres were “spinning in their graves seeing what is happening to the Labor Party.”

Regev went on to say that Hatnuah chairwoman and former co-leader of the Zionist Union Tzipi Livni is “living in a dream,” and that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid was failing to build momentum, and that without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the right won’t be in power.”

“The Likud is the only party with roots … they are trying to attack us with demonstrations against the attorney general and newspaper headlines calling to hold a hearing [about the Netanyahu cases] before the election.

“No problem—start the hearing before the election, and end it before the election,” said Regev.

“Without 40 seats there will be an opposition bloc [against us] and we will have difficulty building a coalition. We need to bring the Likud 40 seats, with quality people,” said Regev.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi touched on the legal wrangles surrounding the question of indictments against the prime minister.

“On the day he announced he had a dramatic announcement there was fear and distress and people thought he was going to resign. I told my friends, he’s not going to resign – he’s going to give it to them.

“Give me one real issue on which the opposition is trying to make us out as weak. There’s no issue. It’s all Bibi … cigars, and the Walla site—utter nonsense. That shows their weakness and our strength,” said Hanegbi.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Yoav Gallant, who recently announced he was joining the Likud, thanked the audience for their support and added that “the goal is to get to 40 seats under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

“In the past decade the security situation has been excellent, and I picture myself as part of the team that, with the prime minister, will lead the next government in dealing with various challenges,” said Gallant.

Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin said “they’ll try to attack us in this election, but I ask you: Who will sit in the prime minister’s seat? Yair Lapid? Benny Gantz? He’d go into a meeting with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and stay silent. What will come of it? We’re the last democratic party in Israel.”

Meanwhile, Lapid said Saturday on Israel’s “Meet the Press” that he would not join any government whose prime minister was under indictment, indicating that if Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indicts Netanyahu, Yesh Atid will not join the coalition if Netanyahu is prime minister.

“I never doubted that Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, but if he loves the country like he says he loves the country, he should resign if he is indicted,” said Lapid.

The Leumiada (formerly known as the Likudia) ran sample polling among participants on key political issues.

A resounding 69.4 percent of respondents said they thought Netanyahu did not have an obligation to resign if he is indicted.

When asked who they preferred to see as leader of a united right-wing bloc, the overwhelming response was again in favor of Netanyahu. Far behind the prime minister were Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, former Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman.

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