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It’s Netanyahu or you!

The current government pumps money into the settlements while the rest of the country burns

Are the benefits of Startup Nation reflected in your hip pocket? If you work hard, do you have an outstanding selection of well-paid career options? Do you think Israel’s relationship with America and the world are strong enough and improving? Do you see the present situation as sustainable, with a great outlook for the future?

If the answer is yes — I urge you to vote for Prime Minister Netanyahu or former Finance Minister, Yair Lapid. I say this to you as a Labor MK and as the Secretary-General of the Labor party: if you think things are just fine, vote Likud, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid, and for Netanyahu’s old partner, Moshe Kahlon. Same failure, different name.

This is the surest way to ensure that nothing will change. Vote for the same and you will get more of the same.

But I am certain that most of you reading this who are living in Israel are not entirely happy with where this government has been leading us. Only last week, the prime minister was undermining America’s long-standing bilateral pro-Israel support for his own political benefit, while at the same time it was revealed that this government has pumped one-third of the country’s funding for subsidized housing in the settlements. 35% funding for less than 5% of Israel’s population, while engaging in a campaign of diplomatic suicide.

Netanyahu will tell you that he is strong on Israel’s security — he is not. It’s a fact. A government led by the Zionist Camp and our candidate for Defense Minister, General Amos Yadlin, who participated in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and the rest of our great team, will secure the country much better. What we wouldn’t do is endanger Israel’s ties with our allies, and especially not our ties with our greatest friend and ally, America.

Yet that is precisely what Netanyahu has shown himself prepared to do. He has proven time and again that he is willing to commit again and again fatal diplomatic mistakes just so long as, and so that, Israelis will keep him in power.

It is this brazenness, this callous disregard for the national interests of the country and the needs of ordinary Israelis, that allows Netanyahu’s government to keep pumping money into the settlements while the rest of the country burns. Labor MK Stav Shaffir, who led the protests in 2011, has spent the last two years spearheading our effort for fiscal transparency, and she has exposed the utter contempt with which the Likud and his mates in Habayit Hayehudi hold the ordinary Israeli voter.

Little has changed for the better under this government. The country is headed for diplomatic isolation and oblivion, and while the economic numbers are nominally good, the middle class has never been worse off. Even people with “good” jobs, like lawyers or high tech, are struggling to make ends meet.

I know that Western olim feel this. Rents are sky-high, salaries are low and stagnating, and opportunities are increasingly limited. Voting for Netanyahu and his friends ensures that nothing will change.

But outside of Israel, particularly in America, “labor” is seen as a strange word. Does it mean socialism? Or something worse still?

Let me be clear: The Labor Party, which together with Hatnua is running as the Zionist Camp, founded and built the State of Israel. We believe not in redistributing the existing pie, but in growing the economy and sharing that growth more fairly. We believe it is not “Zionist” to pump your taxes into wealthy settlements in the West Bank while ordinary Israelis are suffering.

We believe in enhancing our engagement with Western immigrants and improving opportunities for them and for all Israelis. And while it may or may not be possible to come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians right now, we don’t believe in burning all our bridges with the rest of the world over it. We believe in strengthening our ties with our allies in the West, and continuing good faith negotiations with moderate Palestinians in the hope that we can finally build a secure and durable peace here.

If you think things are going just swimmingly for Israel right now, re-elect Netanyahu. If you want to see things change, vote for us in the Zionist Camp. It’s Netanyahu, or us. Actually, it’s Netanyahu, or you.

About the Author
MK Hilik Bar is General Secretary of the Labor Party, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and co-chairperson of the Knesset Caucus for Jerusalem.
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