Corruption probe costs Netanyahu support from the Right, pundits say

The first right-wing figure to come out against Netanyahu was publicist and attorney Nadav Haetzni, who wrote a column in Ma’ariv three weeks ago in which he said that Netanyahu had to leave office.

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December 18, 2017 08:40
2 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will gradually lose the support of the Right, not because of concessions made to the Palestinians to please US President Donald Trump but due to alleged corruption, critics of the prime minister on the Right said Sunday.

The first right-wing figure to come out against Netanyahu was publicist and attorney Nadav Haetzni, who wrote a column in Ma’ariv three weeks ago in which he said that Netanyahu had to leave office and make way for a cleaner politician in Likud.

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Veteran right-wing journalist and settler leader Israel Harel has also called for Netanyahu’s departure due to his behavior. Even so, neither Haetzni nor Harel have joined the weekly anti-corruption protests.

The organizers of the demonstrations, left-wing activist Eldad Yaniv and former Netanyahu family housekeeper Meni Naftali, had been looking for a big name on the Right to speak at their protests for several weeks. They got that Saturday night, when their event in Tel Aviv was addressed by religious-Zionist icon and Petah Tikva yeshiva head Rabbi Yuval Cherlow.

“We are seeing the start of a pattern, and I hope the pattern strengthens and leads to pressure in Likud for Netanyahu to quit and to be replaced by a new leader from Likud,” Haetzni told The Jerusalem Post Sunday night. “There is no need for elections. The Likud can choose a new leader who has clean hands.”
Benjamin Netanyahu dismissive of corruption allegations on January 2, 2017

Haetzni said he believed Rabbi Cherlow made a mistake by going to the protest rally, because he thinks that the organizers of the demonstrations are using corruption as an excuse to topple the Right.

“Rabbi Cherlow should have stayed home and called for the Likud to dare to tell Netanyahu ‘this is not done,’” Haetzni said. “Netanyahu’s behavior harms his camp. Every day there is a bad smell coming from his office, it hurts the Right.”

When Haetzni’s controversial column was published, Netanyahu’s office attacked him, questioning his right-wing credentials and accusing him of trying to find favor with the Left to attract attention and advance his career. Netanyahu’s associates made a point of not attacking Cherlow, who has a strong following among moderate Religious Zionists.

At the rally Cherlow said the Right has an obligation to oppose corruption and to prove that it crosses camps. He also said that recent controversial bills being passed are dangerous for Israeli democracy.

“As long as the Right continues forcing people to choose between a political point of view [promoting] a connection to the Land of Israel and backing a government that is leading a campaign against its critics, investigators and the free press, it will find that more and more people among us prefer our ethics, integrity and the unity of the people,” Cherlow wrote on Twitter and said at the rally.

Yaniv said the rally was never limited to one political camp and that more right-wing speakers would follow Cherlow’s lead.

A source close to Netanyahu responded that despite a few voices on the Right, Netanyahu was as strong as ever politically and that he would prove it Tuesday night, when he hosts Likud activists at a Hanukka Party in Ramat Gan.


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