JERUSALEM — Benjamin Netanyahu launched an 11th-hour attempt to rally right-wing support and retain power Sunday as he claimed an international conspiracy was attempting to topple his government.
Speaking ahead of a rally in Tel Aviv just two days before a general election that polls show his Likud party to be in danger of losing, Mr. Netanyahu said there was a concerted “worldwide” effort to unseat him.
He accused the international media and “leftist organizations” of co-ordinating a plot funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. The goal was to install a left-wing government led by the Zionist Union opposition, which, he said, would bow to foreign pressure by evacuating settlements, surrendering territory in the West Bank, and dividing Jerusalem, which both Israel and the Palestinians claim as their capital.
In an extraordinary message posted on Facebook, the prime minister wrote: “The government of the right is in danger. Leftist activists and the foreign and international media are conspiring to get Tzipi and Buji [Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, the joint leaders of the Zionist Union] elected via illegitimate means, using innuendo and foreign money.
“Those foreign organizations understand that if Tzipi and Buji are in charge, they will give up everything. They’ll withdraw to the 1967 boundaries and they will divide Jerusalem — just as Tzipi and Buji promised they would do. They know that unlike Tzipi and Buji, the Likud and I will never surrender to pressure.”
In the message he also implicated Noni Mozes, the publisher of Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in the alleged campaign, which he labelled “Anyone but Bibi [Mr Netanyahu’s popular nickname].”
He told an Israeli radio station that the campaign against him was being funded from Scandinavia, while Yuval Steintz, his close ally and Israel’s intelligence and strategic affairs minister, said money was also flowing in from the United States.
Mr. Netanyahu’s claims were bolstered by Israel Hayom, a mass circulation free newspaper that supports him and is owned by Sheldon Adelson, an American casino tycoon who is close to the prime minister.
The paper reported that a U.S. Senate committee planned to investigate allegations that an American non-profit organization, OneVoice, had broken the law by funding another group that had been campaigning for a change of government in Israel.
The allegations of foreign interference — whatever their substance — was calculated to appeal to nationalist voters, many of whom are believed to be considering deserting Likud for smaller right-wing parties.
Mr. Netanyahu’s desire to woo voters on the right was illustrated by his decision to speak at last night’s rally, to which thousands of settlers were expected to be bused in from the West Bank.