Zionist Union Intentionally Strengthening Bennett to Weaken Likud

Strategy aims to ensure that Zionist Union ends up larger than Likud - and is thus charged with establishing the next government - by causing Likud to leak votes to the right.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Screenshot of the simulated Yigal Amir banner that was never actually created.
Screenshot of the simulated Yigal Amir banner that was never actually created.Credit: Facebook
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Zionist Union is running an unofficial campaign to strengthen Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, at the expense of the Likud of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Every seat that doesn't go to Netanyahu increases the chances that [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog will establish the next government," a Zionist Union source told Haaretz.

A series of activities by, and leaks from, the Zionist Union over the past few days are designed, among other things, to serve Bennett in his attempt to position himself as an alternative to Netanyahu.

One example is the video attacking Netanyahu's helplessness in the face of the Hamas tunnels that the Zionist Union released on Sunday.

"During Bibi's failed tenure, Hamas dug 34 tunnels under our homes and is still digging," says the narrator, in one of the party's first attempts to take on Netanyahu in the security arena, which is regarded as a Netanyahu strength and a Herzog weakness.

While the overt goal of the video is to position Herzog as a security alternative to Netanyahu, campaign sources acknowledge that right-wing voters are likely to prefer Bennett over the incumbent. Bennett warned about the danger of the tunnels during last summer's war in Gaza.

Last Friday, unnamed members of the Zionist Union campaign leaked a simulated photo of a banner in which Yitzhak Rabin's murderer Yigal Amir calls on his family to vote for Bennett.

The leak of the banner, which never came to fruition, was fiercely condemned by Bennett, who complained that the campaign was inciting against him.

However, political sources said that "the battle against incitement is a common interest for both Bennett and the Zionist Union. Bennett has found a way of being relevant without being overshadowed by Netanyahu.

"Every opportunity that Bennett has to strengthen his position on the right is also an indirect opportunity for Herzog, because it increases the chances that the Zionist Union will be larger than Likud and that the president will therefore call on it to establish the next government."

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