JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly hired Republican strategist and pollster John McLaughlin ahead of Israel’s March 17 election.
Israel’s Channel Two reported the move as polls show Netanyahu in a close race with the center-left alliance of the Labor and Hatnua parties, according to the Times of Israel.
McLaughlin, who according to his website has worked with dozens of U.S. congressmen and senators, worked with Netanyahu in 2007, ahead of Netanyahu’s victory in the 2009 Israeli election.
American political strategists have worked on several past Israeli election campaigns. In last year’s election campaign, Netanyahu hired conservative political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, while the Labor party hired strategist Stanley Greenberg, a veteran of U.S. Democratic campaigns.
Netanyahu also reportedly faced criticism Tuesday from Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Israel Beiteinu party, who allied with him in last year’s election. Haaretz reported that at a closed-door conference, Liberman called for more aggressive diplomatic action vis a vis the Palestinians, which Liberman said Netanyahu has avoided.
“What’s happening now is that we aren’t doing anything,” Liberman said, according to Haaretz. “There’s no initiative. I favor initiative. We must initiate. When you don’t initiate, you lose.”