The Central Elections Commission on Sunday fined the Jewish Home party NIS 72,000 ($19,300) for failing to obey orders to remove billboards showing party leader Naftali Bennett alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a petition filed with the commission Thursday, Likud officials argued the ad would mislead voters into thinking that voting for Bennett was like voting for Netanyahu.
The Likud claimed the ad, which features the slogan “Strong together,” was designed “to deceive right-bloc voters, mislead them and instill in their consciousness through manipulation the mendacious message of ‘Do not vote for [Likud-Beytenu]… We have enough votes and victory is assured.’”
Rubinstein said in his Thursday ruling that he had ordered the ad removed because it could mislead potential voters into the belief that the two parties were running together, or that they have some sort of agreement.
Likud’s annoyance at the ad underscores the gadfly role Bennett and his resurgent nationalist party have played. Though Bennett once served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, the two reportedly had a falling out and in the run-up to elections the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list has found itself losing support to Jewish Home.
A Jewish Home representative said Thursday the ad was intended to convey the message that the party intends to work together with Netanyahu toward a stronger Israel.
I wonder what that fine is supposed to achieve? It has not stopped the adverts which, presumably, have achieved their desired effect. Clever politicking by Bennett & Co. The party has clearly made an impact – something any neutral could spot judging only the amount of time the other parties spend attacking it. (And spreading scare stories…) But the acid test is with the real voters tomorrow, and not opinion polls.