(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Yediot Aharonot newspaper Wednesday for its front-page headline alleging that he spoke insensitively to the residents of Amona.
The newspaper quoted Netanyahu telling Amona residents and settler leaders Saturday night: “I understand what it is to lose a home. After the 1999 election, with no warning, my family and I were simply thrown out of our home. Just like that, with all our belongings.
We were simply thrown on the street, we were forced to go to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel.
It was a terrible feeling.”
The settlers were shocked according to the report and shot back at Netanyahu, saying: “Still, Mr. Prime Minister, this a little different.”
However, Netanyahu responded saying: “It was harsh, very harsh” to have to leave the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Writing on his official Facebook page, Netanyahu quoted a denial by Amona residents that he spoke insensitively to them.
He slammed Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for the headline.
“An Israeli citizen was harmed in a terrorist attack in which 12 innocents were murdered in Berlin and his wife is missing,” Netanyahu wrote. “The Russian ambassador [to Turkey] was murdered in Ankara. But in the world of Noni Mozes, all of that is less important. As usual for Noni Mozes, what is really important is to continue to besmirch and attack the prime minister.”
The Amona residents said “unlike what was published, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not mock us and was not unreceptive to our pain.” They said Netanyahu was empathetic and displayed a genuine willingness to help them as much as he could to ease the pain of losing their homes. “What was published was far from reality, they twisted his words, and do not reflect the discourse or the spirit of the meeting.”
Beit Aryeh Regional Council head Avi Naim, who was present at the meeting, called the report “wicked gossip.”
In an Army Radio interview, he said Netanyahu was not comparing the plight of Amona residents to what happened to him after he lost the 1999 election.
“All he said was that when he asked for a few more days in order to make final arrangements, they did not permit him, and they made him leave immediately,” Naim said.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak slammed Netanyahu on Facebook, saying: “He has lost it completely. Thrown out of his house? By the voters. I was there. It took him six weeks to pack up and leave. Hard? The time has come for it to happen again.”
Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit attacked Netanyahu for the alleged statements in a speech to the Knesset plenum. He said unlike Amona residents, who are acting out of ideology, the prime minister was serving corruption.
“Only a man who has been funded for decades by tycoons can whine about being moved from the Prime Minister’s Residence to the Sheraton Hotel,” Margalit said. “I have a proposal for you: Try funding yourself for once.”
Meanwhile, Yesh Din on Wednesday filed an opposition to the state’s 45-day postponement request.
The NGO said the government’s request “submitted just four days before the deadline set by the court – which gave the government two years to carry it out – is the pinnacle of a process in which the respondents have lost all remnants of the appearance of upholding the rule of law, equality, protection of property and decency.”
The NGO added, “Either the government is holding on to alternative solutions and...
is prepared to implement the evacuation, or it was hoping for a postponement and thus did not plan for the scenario in which it would be forced to carry out the ruling by the deadline. If the latter is true, this is a contempt of court. If the former is true, there is no cause for the request to delay the evacuation.”
It rejected the notion that a delay was needed to facilitate a peaceful evacuation, saying this would mean “capitulation” to threats and shows “preferential treatment” for the Amona residents.