Israel Election Updates / Lieberman: Israel Should Execute Arabs Convicted of Terrorism

5 days to go: Far-right politician Baruch Marzel charged with assault.


Latest political summary: One week before the election, two separate polls place the Zionist Union in the lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. Read the full story

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Latest updates:

9:40 P.M. Likud officials estimate Kachlon would recommend Herzog, not Netanyahu, for PM

Likud officials estimate that Kulanu leader Moshe Kachlon would endorse Netanyahu's rival Isaac Herzog when he meets with the president after the elections. Officials close to the prime minister said Kachlon would prefer to join a Herzog-led government rather than to partner with Netanyahu and a rightist coalition, should both party leaders offer him the finance portfolio.

However, it is unclear whether Likud is basing these estimations on some inside knowledge about Kachlon's intentions, or if it's a strategy calculated to bring disillusioned Likud voters back into the fold, stopping them from voting for Kachlon's party. (Jonathan Lis) 

9:38 P.M. Here are selected remarks from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke on Wednesday at the Park Hotel in Netanya, site of a major terror attack during Passover 2002:

"Our eyes are always open. We thwart arms transfers at sea, on land, in the air. We fight the terror leaders. We fight and we fight terror's great patron – Iran. We don't shy from speaking Israel's mind, even when there's criticism, even when we must disagree with our best friend and its president, whom I respect.

"I will never divide Jerusalem as I never want to return to 1967, as I will never give in on the right of return, as I will never give in on the demand that our neighbors recognize the Jewish State. There are those who are prepared to give up on the West Bank and establish a second Hamastan there. Not us. Not possible.

"We took the economy, bound up and controlled by government as it was, and opened it. We took [what was] huge government spending, restrained it and cut taxes. We cut tax rates and tax receipts rose. We put in place open-skies reform and mobile-phone-service reform, and we opened fuel imports to competition. We still have a lot to do, in housing. Everyone knows how to pick the fruit, but the real test is growing the economic tree.

"We put in place roads, trains, bridges and interchanges. We closed the border to infiltrators. None get in. We are building a medical school in Safed, moving the military's bases to the south, turning Beer Sheva into a cyber city, making tremendous changes nationwide, and they tell us `you didn't do anything.'

"The question now is simple. In the face of these two upheavals, regional security and economics, we must continue to lead. If in the next few days we don't close the gap between Likud and Labor, there's a real danger that Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog will be Israel's next prime ministers. Whoever wants to prevent the left wing from taking power must [vote only for] Likud. I am relying on you. Bring in the votes." (Jonathan Lis)

6:27 P.M. MK Gafni urges thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews to vote for United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism's MK Moshe Gafni addressed a massive rally of his party's supporters in Bnei Brak, urging them to vote in March 17.

"While those who wish to uproot the Torah from Israel are gathering, you cannot stay home," he told the crowds. (Haaretz) 

5:35 P.M. Lieberman says Israel should execute Arabs who carry out deadly attacks

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday execution should be Israel's answer to deadly "Arab terror", adding more fire to an election campaign in which he has suggested disloyal Israeli Arabs should be beheaded.

The far-right politician turned his focus to capital punishment - carried out only once in Israel's history - in a statement on Facebook marking the fourth anniversary of a Palestinian attack that killed five members of a family in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

"In the long years in which we have been dealing with Arab terror, we have seen many terrible terrorist events," Lieberman wrote, calling the 2011 incident among the most shocking.

"This day stands as a reminder ... that these kind of animals must be dealt with unequivocally, and a death sentence must be passed," he said. "These terrorists must not be left alive."

The two Palestinian teenagers convicted of killing the Fogel family in 2011 are serving multiple life terms. (Reuters) 

2:20 P.M. Far-right politician Baruch Marzel charged with assault

Far-right Knesset candidate Baruch Marzel was charged Wednesday with assaulting a Palestinian in Hebron.

The incident took place in February 2013, when Marzel was on his way to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. According to the indictment, Marzel sought to pass through the victim's yard but was asked to leave. Instead, Marzel punched the man, Issa Amro, in the face. He continued kicking the victim even as a soldier who was passing by made an attempt to break up the fight.

The arraignment has been set for May 28.

Marzel accused the police of seeking to undermine his candidacy, citing the fact that the charges were pressed a week before the election and calling the complainant a "criminal."

"The police and the prosecution can't accept the Supreme Court's decision to allow me to run," he said. "What's more amazing is that for years they have been helpless when it comes to [Knesset Member Haneen] Zoabi, but when it comes to me, they are quick on the trigger.

"In spite of them, with God's help, I will be a Knesset member next week, and will fight the politicization of the police and the prosecution." (Chaim Levinson)