‘Lapid, Livni guilty, not me’

TV poll: 45% PM should quit, 40% he should stay

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu lashed out at the po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions to in­dict him and the po­lice’s cen­tral wit­ness, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, in an ad­dress to the Fed­er­a­tion of Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties con­ven­tion at the Tel Aviv Fair­grounds on Wed­nes­day.

Ne­tanyahu said Lapid was em­ployed by Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Arnon Milchan, yet as fi­nance min­is­ter dealt with is­sues re­lated to him with­out ex­cus­ing him­self due to the con­flict of in­ter­est.

“Had I done that, I would have been in­ter­ro­gated un­der cau­tion seven times,” Ne­tanyahu said. “But the world has been turned up­side down. I got rec­om­men­da­tions and Lapid got ap­plause.”

Lapid re­sponded that a few months ago the po­lice asked him to come and give ev­i­dence in Case 1000, and like any law-abid­ing cit­i­zen who

is asked by the po­lice to help them get to the truth, he went and an­swered all their ques­tions. He said he acted against Milchan’s in­ter­ests and Ne­tanyahu worked in fa­vor of them, when the prime min­is­ter tried to ad­vance a bill that would cre­ate a tax shel­ter for mil­lion­aires and he op­posed it.

“I re­fused to ad­vance what is known as the ‘se­cond Milchan bill,’ de­spite the pres­sures, be­cause I work for the cit­i­zens of Is­rael,” Lapid said. “I work only for them, not for any ty­coon and not for the in­ter­ests of any politi­cian, how­ever se­nior he might be.”

Lapid said he is not happy to see Ne­tanyahu in the midst of le­gal chal­lenges. He called upon At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Avichai Man­del­blit to speed up, as much as pos­si­ble, the process and de­ci­sion of whether to in­dict Ne­tanyahu.

“I, like the prime min­is­ter, would pre­fer to chal­lenge him at the bal­lot box,” Lapid said. “It is a sad day for ev­ery cit­i­zen when the prime min­is­ter of Is­rael is ac­cused of se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fenses.

“Hav­ing said that, the prime min­is­ter must ex­hibit na­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity. You can­not be prime min­is­ter, for­eign min­is­ter and health min­is­ter while you spend most of your time with your lawyers or re­spond­ing to the press. You can­not rep­re­sent us in the world, when ev­ery for­eign leader knows that you stand ac­cused of se­ri­ous of­fenses. For the good of the cit­i­zens of Is­rael, the prime min­is­ter needs to va­cate his post.”

A sur­vey by poll­sters Mina Tzemach and Mano Geva broad­cast on Chan­nel 2 Wed­nes­day night found that Ne­tanyahu’s Likud had risen one Knes­set seat, from 25 to 26, and Yesh Atid had fallen by two, from 24 to 22, since the last sur­vey taken by the poll­sters on Jan­uary 13. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Moshe Kahlon’s Ku­lanu party rose two seats in the new poll, from seven to nine.

In the Chan­nel 2 poll, 45% of the pub­lic said Ne­tanyahu should quit and 40% said he should not.

A sep­a­rate poll taken by poll­ster Camille Fuchs for Chan­nel 10 found that 50% be­lieve Ne­tanyahu should quit or sus­pend him­self, while 42% be­lieve he should con­tinue as nor­mal.

In the Chan­nel 10 poll, 34% said they be­lieve Ne­tanyahu’s as­ser­tion that the po­lice are part of a con­spir­acy to top­ple him, and 53% said they do not be­lieve it.

Ne­tanyahu said in his speech to the con­ven­tion that af­ter read­ing the po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions, he found them ugly, ex­trem­ist and full of holes like Swiss cheese. He said the rec­om­men­da­tions in Case 1000, the “ex­pen­sive gift af­fair,” failed to take into ac­count his 20 years of friend­ship with Milchan which in­cluded gifts go­ing both ways, and ex­ag­ger­ated the value of the gifts from Milchan.

“The po­lice ig­nored the facts I gave them on how I ac­tu­ally acted against the in­ter­ests of Milchan,” Ne­tanyahu said. “I broke his mo­nop­oly on im­port­ing auto parts, which was worth a huge amount. I worked to close Chan­nel 10, which would make his stock in the chan­nel worth noth­ing. I work for the Is­raeli econ­omy and so­ci­ety. I am work­ing against Milchan, not for him.”

On Case 2000, the so-called news­pa­per col­lu­sion af­fair, Ne­tanyahu said the po­lice should in­ves­ti­gate whether for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter Tzipi Livni, now a Zion­ist Union MK, used the post to help Ye­diot Aharonot pub­lisher Arnon Mozes.

The prime min­is­ter said his gov­ern­ing coali­tion re­mains sta­ble and that nei­ther he nor any­one in his coali­tion in­tends to ini­ti­ate an elec­tion.

“We will work to­gether un­til the end of the term,” he said.

Op­po­si­tion leader Isaac Her­zog, who was due to speak at the con­ven­tion, stormed out due to Ne­tanyahu’s crit­i­cism of the po­lice.

“I didn’t want to be part of Bibi’s show,” he said. •

(Nir Elias/Reuters)

PRIME MIN­IS­TER Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu speaks dur­ing the Muni World 2018 con­fer­ence at the Tel Aviv Con­ven­tion Cen­ter yes­ter­day.

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