Likud spokesman held in contempt for claiming annexation speech 'not political'

Before the announcement, Judge Melcer declined a joint request by Blue & White and the Democratic Union to ban the broadcast completely which claimed it would be political propaganda.

By IDAN ZONSHINE
September 12, 2019 21:14
1 minute read.
Yonatan Urich stands to the right and a bit behind PM Netanyahu while walking in the Knesset (MARC I

Yonatan Urich stands to the right and a bit behind PM Netanyahu while walking in the Knesset (MARC ISRAEL SELLEM). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Likud spokesperson Jonathan Urich received a subpoena on Wednesday from the head of the election committee, Judge Hanan Melcer, following inaccurate statements he gave to the committee ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press conference about extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.

Urich told the committee that the press conference would not include any political propaganda, and would be "informative" and have "journalistic value." According to Israeli law, in the sixty days before elections, it is prohibited to broadcast any form of political advertisement outside of designated time slots.

Israeli media reported Thursday that the spokesman will be therefore called to testify for contempt of court.

Before Netanyahu's announcement, Melcer declined a joint request by Blue & White and the Democratic Union to ban the broadcast completely. The parties justified their request by saying that the prime minister's speech would include political propaganda.

A Likud spokesperson responded to the claim saying that, "Netanyahu's words from the press conference will have clear informative news value, which naturally might be given widespread media coverage out of sheer public curiosity. This is not forbidden election propaganda and therefore the request is baseless." The statement was also signed by Netanyahu himself.

Judge Melcer declined the joint request for a broadcast ban based on this statement from the Likud according to Globes.

Netanyahu's speech actually contained heavily political attacks and statements such as "The question is 'Who will be the next Prime Minister of Israel, me, or Gantz and Lapid?' Gantz and Lapid have already said they would uproot 80 thousand settlers – with me no one will be uprooted."

A member of the election committee told Ha'aretz that it was watching the press conference, realized the speech included forbidden political propaganda and was considering calling the networks, but the news networks beat them to the punch and cut off the live stream before the committee had time to call.

When Netanyahu found out about the subpoena, he told Israel Hayom "It reminds me of the Soviet Union."

Urich is scheduled to testify on Thursday at 6.30 PM.

He was called to testify before the committee during the previous April election to deal with claims that Netanyahu's Likud Party spread political propaganda using false accounts on social media.


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