President Rivlin criticizes Netanyahu’s Congress speech

President speaks out in Washington against recent political discourse and “shallow” campaign tactics in general.

February 16, 2015 06:50
2 minute read.
Netanyahu Rivlin

President Reuven Rivlin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R). (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO/REUTERS)

President Reuven Rivlin, who will decide the country’s next prime minister, appeared to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to speak to Congress at a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv Sunday night.

Rivlin spoke out against recent political discourse and “shallow” campaign tactics in general. But his speech was interpreted as singling out the prime minister and his intention to deliver the most important speech of his campaign in English in Washington.

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“I believe that if we consider it fitting, to speak on the international stage about the dangers lurking and threats we face, all the more so, we should be talking directly, patiently and in Hebrew to our citizens at home,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin described the Israeli public as “tired and fed up” with what he called “attempts to drug them with satire and stardom.” He said the public was searching for hope, solutions and “leadership driven by content and values that is able to make decisions.”

He urged party leaders to address four issues: Israel’s relations with the US and Europe; with Arab countries and the Palestinians; with the Diaspora; and internally with the Israeli way of life.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog told a crowd in Pardess Hanna that Netanyahu had harmed efforts to prevent the nuclearization of Iran due to his poor relationship with US President Barack Obama.

“Our relationship with our No. 1 friend must be above election considerations,” he said. “Netanyahu must cancel his trip to Washington.”

Netanyahu's Likud party responded to Herzog's remarks by warning him to "review such things in depth before making irresponsible statements and harming the national and security interests of Israel."

Likud accused Herzog and Tzipi Livni, his fellow leader in the new Zionist Union faction, of "jumping on any opportunity to attack the prime minister."

The party called instead for Herzog to partner with the premier in his hardline approach against a nuclear Iran, again stating that a left-wing government could not handle such duties.

Meanwhile, Herzog continued to face problems inside the campaign of his Zionist Union.

Thirteen party officials were going to be sent to polygraph tests to check who leaked information to the press, but the move was called off.

Channel 10 reported that among Labor’s 17 campaign offices around the country, some had three leaders due to internal disputes. According to the report, NIS 32 million had been spent due in part to the disputes and to special requests by candidates Amir Peretz and Danny Atar to run their own campaigns.

The report said that the Zionist Union’s new strategist, Reuven Adler, had recommended that Herzog’s No. 2, Hatnua leader Livni, lower her profile for the rest of the campaign. Meanwhile, in a speech at Jerusalem’s Cinema City, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called Netanyahu a coward who does not tell the truth.

He said Netanyahu was making a mistake by not trying to attend an upcoming Arab League event.

Lapid told the crowd in the capital that there should be no “division of Jerusalem in any way.”

Peggy Cidor and Staff contributed to this report.

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