Israel Election Updates / Herzog: Netanyahu's Disregard for Housing Crisis an 'Unforgivable Sin'

Three days to go: Netanyahu and Herzog spar on Jerusalem, Iran; Likud's Erdan: Public must demand to know who Kahlan, Lieberman will recommend for PM; Ex-Balad leader Bishara says Joint List should have signed surplus votes deal with Meretz.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk past Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election campaign banner in Jerusalem March 11, 2015.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk past Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election campaign banner in Jerusalem March 11, 2015.Credit: Reuters
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Haaretz

Latest political summary: The last election polls before Tuesday's vote, published on Thursday and Friday, showed the Zionist Union of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni maintaining its lead of between two and four seats over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. Read the full story

Supporters of the Zionist Union wear t-shirts bearing the names of the party's co-leaders, Isaac Herzog, also known by his nickname, Buji, and Tzipi Livni, in of Ashdod, March 13, 2015.Credit: Reuters

For Thursday's updates, click here

Latest opinion and analyses: Yair Lapid’s road to premiership is paved with good intentions (Alon Idan) | Netanyahu must be thinking, what the hell was I thinking? (Yossi Verter) | Five must-reads if you want to understand the Israeli election (Haaretz) 

Latest updates:

8:10 P.M. Netanyahu and Herzog spar on Jerusalem, Iran

Although an official one-on-one debate between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main contender Isaac Herzog has not taken place in the run-up to Election Day, the two politicians did briefly exchange words on Saturday on Channel 2's Meet the Press.

The program's host Rina Mazliah, who interviewed the leaders of the largest parties one after the other, had finished interviewing Herzog in the studio and welcomed Netanyahu, who was speaking remotely.

When offered to present Herzog with any question he'd like, Netanyahu asked: "Why did they [Herzog and Tzipi Livni] condemn the construction in Jerusalem? Why don't they offer support when I am fighting to remove threats like the Iranian nuclear weapons? Why do they refuse to say they stand behind the immense security effort we are undertaking?" (Haaretz) Read the full story

5:35 P.M. Ex-Balad leader Bishara says Joint List should have signed surplus votes deal with Meretz

Azmi Bishara, the founder of the Israel Arab party Balad, said that an agreement on redistribution of surplus ballots with Meretz would have been a positive step and that he would have recommended signing one had he been asked.

Bishara, who resides in Qatar after fleeing Israel in 2007 to escape prosecution on charges of aiding an enemy in wartime, said that reaching such a deal was an issue of pragmatism as it would have maximized votes for anti-Netanyahu parties.

Bishara was speaking to the Arabs48 website, which is considered sympathetic to Balad. His words came in response to claims that he had led the opposition to such an agreement with Meretz. “I’m not involved and follow things from a distance. Creating the Joint List was an essential step in order to get people to vote. Instead of attacking one another as separate parties, the joint party should encourage people to go out and vote in unity.”

Bishara estimated that toppling Netanyahu’s government is possible not because of the collapse of the diplomatic process but because of the Israeli premier becoming personally objectionable to large segments of Israeli society and due to the crisis he created with the U.S. He added that Herzog is no Rabin and will not be able to form a government based on Arab MKs, so that a national unity government is a realistic scenario following the elections. (Haaretz)

3:30 P.M. Meretz leader warns left-wing voters not to vote tactically for Zionist Union

Meretz leader Zehava Galon, addressing the issue of voting based on one’s sympathy to blocs of parties rather than specific ones at a public event in Holon, warned that “if Meretz disappears from the Knesset there will be no change in goverment and Herzog will not be prime minister.”

Speaking of the chances for forming a left-centrist government, she said that the “concept of voting for the bigger party is based on a falsehood. It’s not true that the forming of a government will be based on the largest party. If Meretz voters cast their ballots for the Zionist Camp instead of Meretz, Meretz will not enter the Knesset and the bloc will lose four seats. Without Meretz in the Knesset recommending that Herzog form the next government there is no chance that he will be charged with the task.” (Haaretz)

2:50 P.M. Herzog: Netanyahu's disregard for housing crisis an "'unforgivable sin"

The head of the Zionist Camp, Yitzhak Herzog, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's disregard for Israel's housing crisis is an "unforgivable sin". Elaborating on the housing crisis, Herzog said that he "heard Bibi saying that he identified the crisis early on and that he would fix it next time around. I want to clarify - his ignoring of this issue for four years is unpardonable. Even if he repeatedly asks forgiveness and promises to change things, the public has no reason to believe him." Herzog's comments were made at a Saturday public gathering in Rishon LeZion.

Herzog added that "the public is fed up with Netanyahu and his failed government. Former residents of the Soviet Union who were previously identified with the right are now looking for a change and an improvement in their quality of life."

Zionist Union's co-leader also addressed voting strategies in the upcoming election, saying that one more or one less Knesset seat for Yesh Atid would not make a difference on the overall result, whereas increasing the Zionist Union's lead over Likud would significantly affect Israel's future. (Haaretz)

1:45 P.M. Likud's Erdan: Public must demand to know who Kahlan, Lieberman will recommend for PM

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, speaking at a saturday campaign event, demanded that Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party and Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu declare who they will recommend for prime minister after the election. “The public must get answers from these two regarding the recommendations they will make to President Rivlin as to their choice for Prime Minister. The Likud is concerned by Kahlon’s candidate for Defense Minister Yoav Galant’s statements which indicated that Kahlon will close a deal with Herzog. Thus, voting Kahlon will bring a left-wing government headed by Herzog and Livni.” (Haaretz)

1:30 P.M. Zionist Camp's defense candidate slams PM for lack of "strategic process"

The Zionist Camp’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, stated at a public event on Saturday that “Israel is stuck with a frightened and out-of-touch leader. Netanyahu has not initiated any strategic process that would address and solve Israel’s problems. What mainly interests Netanyahu is his own political survival. As a citizen of Israel I’m ashamed that hardly anyone around the world believes our Prime Minister.”

Yadlin added that “anyone whose concept is one of a government that includes Yair Lapid must vote for the Zionist Camp, since the more Knesset seats it wins, the easier it will be for Lapid and Kahlon to make the right choice the day after the elections. Any ballot cast other than for Herzog is in practice a vote for Netanyahu.” (Haaretz)

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