Tel Aviv, Israel — At a market in Tel Aviv there was more on-offer than usual in the run-up to Tuesday’s Israeli national election. When CBS News visited it was supporters from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, pushing for votes and drowning out the sound of the vegetable sellers.
“About the election, until the last moment we don’t know what will go on,” market patron Ilan Russ told CBS News’ Seth Doane about the unpredictable vote. “We do not know what is going to happen.” In the tight race Netanyahu has used state visits with President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin as campaign photo-ops.
The Trump factorOver the weekend Netanyahu appealed to far-right voters, vowing on national TV to annex West Bank Jewish settlements — cementing Israeli rule over the parcel of land that most of the world considers “occupied territory” belonging to the Palestinians.At the market, one Netanyahu supporter said negotiating with the Palestinians was pointless.”I want peace, very much” Roni Karo told Doane. “But it’s not possible. Just, oil and water,” he said, concluding that the two sides in the decades-old conflict are simply incompatible.During the campaign, Netanyahu has highlighted his relationship with President Trump, who recently recognized Israel’s sovereignty over another disputed piece of land, the Golan Heights. The land was seized by Israel from Syria in 1967, but the United Nations and much of the international community still considers it illegally occupied by Israel.Mr. Trump also moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem after recognizing that contested city as Israel’s capital. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians insist the right to call Jerusalem their capital.”Israeli people love Trump, because he loves my country,” Karo told Doane at the market.Fake news push for Netanyahu?Yuval Adam, a web activist and hacker who has researched political activity online for eight months for his “Big Bot Project,” said Americans might notice a lot of familiar strategies in the Israeli election campaign.