As he entered the final day of campaigning before Tuesday’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to garner support by promising that if re-elected, there would be no establishment of a Palestinian State in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
The Associated Press reported that after six years as prime minister and as the “most dominant personality in Israeli politics,” Netanyahu’s standing has fallen in recent weeks.
According to Reuters, opinion polls predict that Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union will take 24 to 26 seats in the 120-member parliament, while Netanyahu’s Likud will only take 20 to 22.
In an interview with Israeli news website NRG, Netanyahu was asked about his stance on creating a Palestinian State. In his response, which was translated to English by the Times of Israel, he claimed that the establishment of such a state would only lead to radical Islamic attacks on Israel.
“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The New York Times noted that Netanyahu’s statement was contrary to his endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2009, during a speech at Bar Ilan University, and that the change “fulfilled many world leaders’ suspicions that he was never really serious about peace negotiations.”
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu has done more campaigning in the Israeli press this election season than in the last six years, and in his latest appearances, he appears to be “under pressure, nervous, tired and confused.”
The Associated Press reported that in contrast to Netanyahu, Herzog has vowed to “revive peace efforts with the Palestinians, repair ties with the U.S. and reduce the growing gaps between rich and poor.”
Reuters noted that both Herzog and his former running mate Tzipi Livni, have accused Netanyahu of “playing up fears over the Palestinians and Iran’s nuclear program to distract voters from the high cost of living and other social issues.”