Election campaigns for the 20th Knesset continued to heat up Wednesday as nine candidates from different parties attended a political panel at the Ashkelon Academic College to discuss each of their parties' beliefs and platforms.
The panel featured MK Gila Gamliel (Likud), MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), Shimon Riklin (Jewish Home), MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), Eli Elaluf (Kulanu), MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu), MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), and attorney Alaa Mahajna.
MK Bar-Lev spoke pessimistically about security in the South, likely a swipe at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government for not improving the situation.
"I have some sad news for you. The terrible security situation here in the South for the past 14 years will continue, unfortunately. It will not get better. Hamas has already started to send rockets and are rebuilding terror tunnels."
"As soon as Hamas decides, shooting will return. The entire Israeli society is dependent on the Egyptian President," Bar-Lev warned, "and who knows what will happen if he is replaced."
MK Gilon took the conversation in a different direction, explaining to students that to replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister, they must vote for the far-left Meretz party.
"Whoever wants to put an end to the phenomenon known as Bibi Netanyahu will vote for Meretz and not for Herzog," Gilon declaimed.
"After all, we will not join a government led by Netanyahu, even within the framework of a national unity government. You can believe that one hundred percent. Can you tell me Herzog won't enter a Netanyahu-led government? No."
Gilon continued by highlighting the major differences between Meretz and the Labor-Hatnua joint list.
"Herzog is indeed our candidate for Prime Minister, but [Manual] Trajtenberg is not our candidate for Finance Minister and [Amos] Yadlin is really not our candidate for the position of Defense Minister," he explained.
Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen took the opportunity to address (and criticize) former party head Eli Yishai's resignation and formation of new party – Yachad Ha'am Itanu.
"Eli Yishai's party will probably not pass the threshold and its a waste of those votes which will be thrown to the trash. [His decision to leave] violates the whole camp here."
Attorney Alaa Mahajna, meanwhile, had nothing but praise for the unification of Arab parties – Hadash, Balad, and United Arab List.
"I'm happy that for the first time we're not talking about the Arab parties in the context of them not passing the threshold. The connection between the Arab parties is not technical. We're not going to fall apart after the election. We have agreements and understandings related to future join ventures in the Knesset," he stated.
Former Deputy Minister of Finance Mickey Levy returned the discussion to party platforms with a clarification of Yesh Atid's political positions.
"I say unequivocally: the Yesh Atid party wants to separate from the Palestinians and is interested in a peace agreement, but we say no the division of Jerusalem, which was, is, and will remain the capital of Israel forever."