Israel Election Live Blog / Senior Likud MK: Likud Will Win, Even if Netanyahu Goes Home

Livni gives up power-sharing deal with Herzog; Habayit Hayehudi fears it may be dipping into single digits; Meretz chief says Herzog won't be PM if her party doesn't pass electoral threshold; Netanyahu: Zionist Union will turn East J'lem into Hamastan B.

Tomer Applebaum

For Sunday's updates, click here

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Ofer Vaknin

Latest opinion and analyses: Endangered: Three Israeli political parties fight to stay alive (Allison Kaplan Sommer) | Rightist rally proves: Likud turned from party of the masses to party of settlers (Barak Ravid) | Israeli occupiers, go to the polls (Gideon Levy) | Netanyahu is the best man for prime minister, just as Israelis say (Zalman Shoval) | The right-wing rally: Like a family dinner - for now (Yossi Verter) | Israel's right wing is fighting for its soul (Anshel Pfeffer)

Latest updates:

10:35 P.M. Senior Likud MK: A loss in the election will also be a win – Bibi will go home

A senior Likud MK said on Monday that even the party loses the election, in light of the latest pre-election polls, “it will still be an accomplishment.”

“If we win, that would be excellent,” said the MK. “But even if we lose, it will be a healthy and good process for the Likud. Netanyahu will go home, and a whole generation of potential leaders will finally be able to contend for the leadership and transform Likud from a party that scratches 20 seats to a true ruling party.” (Jonathan Lis)

10:05 P.M. Livni: Canceling power-sharing deal won’t necessarily raise Zionist Union’s votes 

MK Tzipi Livni, who announced on Monday that she was planning to forfeit a power-sharing deal with Isaac Herzog, told Haaretz that “the announcement of canceling the power-sharing deal was not a declaration planned for the night before elections. Rather, these were questions that had already been asked, and as the election date came closer, we thought it only correct to clarify.” Livni said “this is not a new decision. I said the same things on Saturday in an interview. Bougie has also said this, each of us in their own way.”

Livni added that the Zionist Union has no evidence that the move will raise the number of votes it receives in Tuesday's election. “What raised our voter percentage was our percentage, and that remains. The decision to give up the power-sharing deal proves that we are doing what is necessary.” (Jonathan Lis)  

9:15 P.M. Habayit Hayehudi fears it may be dipping into single digits

Habayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett has been warning his supporters that if his party’s doesn’t do well in Tuesday’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will assemble a unity government with the Zionist Union. Visiting Jerusalem’s Davidka Square, Mahane Yehuda Market and Old City on the last day before the election, Bennett delivered central message that if his party doesn’t do well in tomorrow’s elections, Netanyahu will turn to the center-left in coalition negotiations. “All of Habayit Hayehudi would support Netanyahu but he must ensure that he won’t be with Tzipi and Bougie [Livni and Herzog].” Bennet said. “Last time, a minute after the elections, he went ahead and brought in Livni and left us outside. We should have forced our way in.”

The party is very worried that the drop in support will mean that it will receive fewer than ten seats at the polls on Tuesday. Avichai Boron, number 16 on the ticket, wrote on his Facebook page that internal party polls have found that Habayit Yehudi will only get nine seats. (Chaim Levinson)

8:03 P.M. Netanyahu: Livni giving up power-sharing deal Zionist Union are liars

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Channel 2's Yonit Levy that Livni's move showed that the Zionist Union were liars and that they could not handle the pressure. (Haaretz)

7:22 P.M. Livni gives up power-sharing deal with Herzog

MK Tzipi Livni announced on Monday that she was willing to back down from her deal for rotating premiership with Isaac Herzog, if such a move proves necessary during talks to form a coalition.

Livni’s announcement is one of several steps taken by the Zionist Union in an attempt to boost the number of seats for the party and increase its lead over Likud. Livni told Herzog that the rotation will not become a hurdle in the coalition negotiations and said that the most important thing remains replacing Netanyahu at the helm. (Jonathan Lis)

6:15 P.M Meretz chief: Herzog will not be PM if we don’t pass electoral threshold

Left-wing Meretz's hope that it would increase its representation in the next Knesset have been replaced with the fear that the party will not pass the election threshold, sparking a last minute appeal to leftist voters to support the party. “It’s a battle for every vote until the last moment,” said Meretz leader Zehava Galon to Haaretz. “I can’t imagine a Knesset without Meretz. We’re in a situation where it’s clear that if Meretz isn’t in the next Knesset, the most immediate meaning is that [Zionist Union leader] Herzog will not be prime minister.” The Meretz leader added that she “trusts that when Meretz voters go to the polls, their vote will not only be ideological, but this time also strategic... If you vote Meretz, you will receive Herzog as prime minister.” (Ilan Lior)

Meretz leader Zehava Galon. Photo by Moti Milrod

5:27 P.M. Netanyahu: If I'm elected, there will be no Palestinian state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau said Monday that if he were to be re-elected a Palestinian state would not be created, in an explicit disavowal to the commitment he made in his 2009 speech, in which he had voiced support for the principle of two states for two peoples.

Netanyahu's remarks in an interview with the NRG website - which is owned by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and tied with the settler newspaper Makor Rishon - were a last-minute attempt to pull right-wing voters away from Habayit Hayehudi.

"I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel," Netanyahu said. The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand." (Barak Ravid) Read the full story

4:35 P.M. IDF soldier arrested on suspicion of threatening leftist candidates

An Israeli soldier from the country's center was arrested Monday on suspicion of threatening election candidates from left-wing parties (Shirley Seidler)

4:15 P.M. Netanyahu: Zionist Union will turn East Jerusalem into Hamastan B

During a visit to the East Jerusalem settlement of Har Homa, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “If Tzipi [Livni] and Bougie [Isaac Herzog] form a government, Hamastan B will be established here.” (Jonathan Lis) 

2:25 P.M. Zionist Union focuses on poaching voters from Yesh Atid

The Zionist Union campaign is focusing its efforts on poaching voters from Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party in the final stretch before election day.

Rather than focusing on Netanyahu's Likud party, Herzog's campaign is devoting energy to stealing voters from Lapid through aggressive campaigning and public statements from MKs, issued through the media.

Internal Zionist Union polls have shown that voters who have until now planned to vote for Yesh Atid may defect from Lapid to Herzog.

The Zionist Union has realized that there are slim chances of moving voters from the right to the center. "Those on the right who want change have already moved to the center - to Moshe Kahlon. They won't move any further toward us," campaign headquarters explained.

"We are going strong against Lapid. His voters don't understand that voting for him undermines any chance for change, since Lapid will most certainly agree to sit in a Netanyahu-led government." (Jonathan Lis)

Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the East Jerusalem settlement of Har Homa, March 16, 2015. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

1:22 P.M. Yishai to Dery: It's time to join hands and end this dispute

Yahad's Eli Yishai wrote a letter to his former partner Arye Dery, calling on the Shas leader to join hands and end their dispute. Yahad is currently teetering on the electoral threshold, polling between four and five seats.

Yishai established Yahad after leaving Shas in December 2014 after relations between Dery and Yishai deteriorated. (Yair Ettinger)

11:20 A.M. Likud: Last time Barak and Herzog joined forces, we ended up with the second intifada

Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party slammed Ehud Barak's endorsement of Isaac Herzog Monday.

"Barak and Bougie are joining forces again, just as they did in 1999, to bring a leftist government of withdrawals, concessions and the division of Jerusalem."

"Last time that happened, we ended up with the second intifada and buses blowing up in the heart of Israeli cities." (Jonathan Lis)

11:00 A.M. Labor activists reject Barak's endorsement: 'May do more harm than good'

A number of Labor Party activists are unhappy with Ehud Barak's endorsement of Isaac Herzog.

Barak controversially left Labor in 2011 to form the breakaway Independence party.

In recent days, several activists have had reservations about the possibility of Barak publicly endorsing Herzog.

"Barak abandoned Labor and partnered with Netanyahu. Many in the Zionist Union view him as the man who tipped the scales to a right-wing government and dismantled the Labor Party," said a senior Zionist Union official.

"I have no doubt that such an endorsement from Barak will cause us more harm than good." (Jonathan Lis)

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon (C) with Kulanu candidate Yoav Galant (R), March 16, 2015. Photo by Moti Milrod

10:31 A.M. Ehud Barak endorses Isaac Herzog for prime minister

Former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak formally endorsed Isaac Herzog for prime minister on Monday.

"I have known Isaac Herzog for decades," Barak said. "He served as government secretary in my cabinet and as a minister by my side when I lead the Labor Party."

Barak called Herzog "sage, experienced and responsible," lauding Herzog's decision-making skills when it comes to political and security issues. Barak additionally highlighted how the world leaders who have met and talked with Herzog hold him in high esteem. (Jonathan Lis)