(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli television and radio stations should not broadcast Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to both houses of the US Congress in March, because it is illegal election campaigning, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On wrote in a petition to the Central Election Committee Sunday.
It is illegal to broadcast campaign speeches for 60 days before an election. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress about Iran is planned for March 3, and the election is on March 17. The ban on speeches came into effect on January 16.
Gal-On’s attorney, Daphna Holtz-Lechner, pointed out that the speech was planned without coordinating with the White House, against protocol, and that US President Barack Obama will not meet with Netanyahu because of how close the speech is to the election.
“It is clear that this is an election speech. The American establishment will not be involved in our election, and its heads, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama not meet with Mr. Netanyahu,” she wrote.
“Many in the American government expressed shock and harshly criticized the prime minister for playing politics while harming the strategic interests between Israel and the US.”
According to Holtz-Lechner, the way Netanyahu decided to give the speech, despite all of the opposition to it and its timing, shows that it is meant to help his electoral campaign.
Central Election Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran asked that Netanyahu – not the Prime Minister’s Office – and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein respond to Gal- On’s petition by February 1.