Israel Election Updates / New Likud Ad: If Ben-Gurion Listened to U.S. State Department, Would We Be Here Today?

23 days to go: Herzog: The more Netanyahu drops in polls, the more he lies; Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On calls on Netanyahu to cancel Congress speech.

Latest political summary: Haaretz poll finds that 70 percent of Israeli Arabs care much more about bettering their socioeconomic lot than about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read full article here

Meanwhile, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party has stepped up recruitment of French voters, hoping to appeal to the community on economic - not just security - issues. Read full article here

Latest opinions and analysis: When taking fire, Netanyahu knows exactly who to send to the front lines (Yossi Verter | It’s the economy, stupid. Or is it? (David Rosenberg) | Israeli Arabs shouldn't participate in a fixed political game (Jamal Abdo)

For the most recent election updates, click here

Latest updates:

9:50 P.M. Likud calls on opposition to support Netanyahu's Congress speech

The Likud party called on Israeli opposition parties on Saturday to stand behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his plan to speak before the U.S. Congress in March.

"On such a crucial existential issue for the citizens of Israel, opposition leaders should rise above political and personal considerations and stand alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," the party said in a statement.

"There are fundamental differences between Netanyahu and the U.S. administration over the dangerous agreement taking shape with Iran and over the need and the necessity to continue the sanctions on Iran," the statement said. (Jonathan Lis) Real full article here

8:28 P.M. Likud video compares Netanyahu to Ben-Gurion: If Ben-Gurion listened to U.S. State Department, would we be here today?

A new video released by Likud saturday evening compares present-day Israel to 1948, drawing parallels to Netanyahu's Congress speech and the U.S. State Department's opposition to Israel's 1948 declaration of independence.

Opening to a background of warlike music, in stark black-and-white images, the text reads "In 1948, Ben-Gurion stood before a fateful decision: The creation of the State of Israel."

"The U.S. secretary of state firmly objected. Ben-Gurion - contrary to the State Department's position - announced the establishment of the state," the ad continues. "Would we be here today had Ben-Gurion not done the right thing?"

The 30-second clip ends with the slogan “Only Likud. Only Netanyahu.” (Haaretz) 

7:03 P.M. Kahlon to state comptroller: Do not give in to political pressure and publish housing report on time

Moshe Kahlon called on State Comptroller Joseph Shapira to publish his report on housing as scheduled, and not to give in to the political pressure currently being applied to him.

"The comptroller's report on housing is the most important report the comptroller will publish in the coming years," Kahlon said Saturday. (Ilan Lior) 

4:02 P.M. Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On calls on Netanyahu to cancel Congress speech

Meretz chairwoman, MK Zahava Gal-On, speaking at a cultural event in Rehovot, devoted much of her address to the prime minister’s upcoming speech to Congress and its ramifications on the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

“Netanyahu’s speech harms Israel-U.S. relations, Israel’s ability to be a player in the Iranian arena and now also the pro-Israel lobby,” she said. “As usual, the prime minister is acting with typical disconnection, continues to neglect the whole world and looks after only himself.”

“His insistence on the speech in Washington, while endangering the strategic relationship with the U.S., brought us to the point where he turned AIPAC into a hostage of his political struggles in the election campaign, and in doing so has inflicted irreversible damage to Israel’s support infrastructure in the U.S.”

Gal-On called on Netanyahu to cancel the speech. “The State of Israel’s and American Jewry’s benefit should come before cynical political considerations,” he said. (Ilan Lior)

3:45 P.M. Zionist Union's Amos Yadlin: Netanyahu is not 'Mr. Security' - he's failed in security

The Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, participating in a similar event in Holon, attacked the prime minister’s security record.

“Netanyahu is not ‘Mr. Security’ - he’s failed in security,” Yadlin said.

“After six years in power, Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear bomb, relations with the United States - Israel’s national supporting pillar – have been seriously harmed and we have to rehabilitate them urgently. Netanyahu is weak not only against Iran but also against Hamas. Fifty days of rockets, tunnels under Gaza border settlements - the same man who wrote books about not conceding to terror, released hundreds of murderers with blood on their hands.” (Jonathan Lis) 

3:30 P.M. Herzog: Netanyahu slipping in polls, digging teeth into state comptroller; it won’t help him

Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog on Saturday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of refusing to take responsibility for the goings-on at his official residence and called on him to “give the public a full account.”

“He blames the media, the residence’s manager and the previous governments for everything.” Herzog told a Shabbat cultural event in Tel Aviv.

According to Herzog, “there’s already a clear gap of at least two Knesset seats in the polls. The more Netanyahu drops in the polls, the more lies and spins he invents. He’s looking for new victims and this time he’s digging his teeth into the institution of the state comptroller – it won’t help him! The report on housing will reveal a reverberating failure and grave ignoring of the citizens’ needs. Bibi, you've failed – go home!” (Jonathan Lis)