Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked fiercely denied a Haaretz report on Monday that she sent messengers offering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assistance in obtaining immunity from prosecution in return for him allowing her to run in Likud.
The report accused Shaked of sending messengers to Netanyahu saying that she could persuade Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to help him avoid prosecution and explain Netanyahu receiving immunity to the press. According to the report, the messengers said that she could "control" Mandelblit and without her, Netanyahu would end up going to prison on corruption charges.
Shaked has not denied that she sought to join Likud after her New Right party did not cross the electoral threshold in the April election and before she became head of the right-wing Yamina party. But she refuted the Haaretz report in the strongest possible terms.
She said she never spoke to Mandelblit about criminal probes of politicians, especially Netanyahu. She dismissed the report as "an ugly attempt at character assassination" against her and her party and said she expected the public to be smart enough not to believe it. When asked by The Jerusalem Post who smeared her, she blamed it on figures in the Likud party.
"Despite the attempts of political players to hurt Yamina with cheap, untrue gossip, we stand by our intention of recommending Netanyahu for Prime Minister of the state of Israel," Shaked's office said. "Yamina is stronger than all the attempts to hurt it, and it's important that it stay that way, because only a large Yamina can continue strengthening Netanyahu against the challenges that still face us. If the quotes were in fact said by someone or other, they have no connection with Shaked, and were not said with her knowledge."
Netanyahu also vigorously denied the report.
"The prime minister does not need any politician in order to claim that the absurd allegations against him are without doundation and precedent," a Likud spokesman said.
But Shaked's critics on the Left took the allegations very seriously. Activists from the Democratic Union party demonstrated outside her Tel Aviv home on Monday night and Knesset candidates Yair Golan and Yaya Fink wrote Mandelblit asking him to probe Shaked for bribery.
"A former justice minister pimped the Attorney General for a cabinet seat," Democratic Union co-chairwoman Stav Shaffir said. "What we see here is political bribery at its lowest. The deal of the century has ended up being for Netanyahu's immunity."
Idan Zonshine contributed to this report