Jerusalem: As Israelis cast their ballots on Tuesday for the 20th Knesset, PM Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is in for a strong challenge from from his rival Zionist camp led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
While Netanyahu, also known as 'Bibi' is noted for his stress on national security, (which has reportedly become the reason of ennui that has set in among Israelis) Herzog and his allies are going ahead with the issue of socioeconomic welfare.
Over 5.8 million Israelis will on Tuesday (from 07:00 am to 22:00 pm local time) vote after deciding if they want to retain Netanyahu as PM for his fourth term or choose a fresh face as the country's tenth PM.
Netanyahu has made it clear that if re-elected he will never allow the formation of a Palestinian State. He further said that if the Zionist Union came to power they would turn East Jerusalem into Hamastan B, reported the Haaretz.
In what may cause Netanyahu much chagrin, a senior Likud MK has said that even if their party lost the elections, it will be an achievement for them because "Bibi will go home".
“If we win, that would be excellent.. 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,” the Haaretz quoted him as saying.
Netanyahu is Israel's ninth PM and is holding the post since March 2009. He may become the longest-serving leader of Israel if re-elected.
However, according to some polls, Benjamin Netanyahu is trailing behind the Zionist Union in popularity and his six-year reign in Israel is set to come to an end as people seem disenchanted with his more than required focus on national security rather than bettering people's socio-economic stance.
Cashing in on the same factor, Herzog, who is member of the Knesset (Parliament) and chairman of the Labor Party, wrote a blog in the Times of Israel, urging people to vote for change and hope and 'replace Bibi'.
Herzog, who is member of the Knesset (Parliament) and chairman of the Labor Party, jotted down a scathing critique of Netanyahu, portraying him as a leader who “failed in the fight against terrorism and in curbing Iran’s nuclear program”.
In a remark that was an oblique remark on Netanyahu's straining ties with the Obama administration recently, Herzog accused Netanyahu of having brought Israel “unprecedented international isolation” by fighting with the allies instead of enemies.
“Bibi failed to find solutions to the housing crisis and to the cost of living. He failed in the fight against terrorism and in curbing Iran’s nuclear program”.
“And worst of all: Bibi robbed us of hope,” Herzog wrote in the Times of Israel.
It may be noted that just a fortnight ahead of the election, Netanyahu had delivered a strong anti-Iran nuke deal speech to the joint House of US Congress on the invitation of US Republicans – a move apparently loathed by the White House and Democrats.
Netanyahu's speech was touted to have caused further strain in his ties with Obama as the latter brushed aside Bibi's comments on Iran saying there was nothing new in it and no alternative.
Convincing the Israelis of a better government, Herzog has assured that he will work to “repair ties with the US” other than harnessing alliances to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
“I promise that in the first 100 days of a government that I lead, we will establish a new leadership that will stand ready to serve you. I pledge to take personal responsibility for problems relating to the home, the pocket, and to our shared future,” Herzog assured.