Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resolutely denied the repeated accusations from the Blue and White Party that he profited from the sale of German submarines to Israel and Egypt, calling it a “blood libel” in a surprise interview with Channel 12 Saturday night.Netanyahu arrived at the studio “to stop the wave of lies [Blue and White leaders Benny] Gantz, [Yair] Lapid, [Moshe] Bogie Ya’alon and [Gabi] Ashkenazi are spreading.”In addition, on Friday, Netanyahu said he plans to sue Gantz and Lapid for libel.“I never held stock in a steel company,” Netanyahu said in the interview, describing the company as developing new technology for electrodes used in metal manufacturing.The prime minister also pointed out that he bought the stock when he was in the opposition, and said he reported the purchase to the appropriate authorities, and he sold it after becoming prime minister, with permission from the State Comptroller’s Office.
Breaking: In surprise interview to @NewsChannelIL, @netanyahu says he doesnt see @gantzbe joining his coalition, mocks Gantz's debate offer and commits to not pass a bill to avoid prosecution.— Gil Hoffman (@Gil_Hoffman) March 23, 2019
In addition, Netanyahu said he sold the stock over a year and a half before the submarines from ThyssenKrupp AG, which use the technology he had invested in, were sold to Egypt or Israel.As for his earnings of nearly 700% from the $600,000 in stock he originally purchased, Netanyahu in part credited his cousin Nathan Milikowsky, who recommended the stock to him, as being a “genius” in this area.But Netanyahu also said he had this and “other successful investments... because I understand economics and business.“I’m not like Gantz who bankrupted his company, or Ashkenazi who unsuccessfully searched for oil [in the Negev] or Lapid who doesn’t understand economics,” he stated. “I shouldn’t be subject to accusations for being successful in business. I invested in a company with no connection to submarines.”Blue and White has also accused Netanyahu of endangering Israel’s strategic edge by giving Germany permission to sell the advanced submarines to Egypt.“This is the worst blood libel,” Netanyahu responded. “They are telling a lie because they know I cannot tell a state secret in the studio.”Netanyahu refused to give details about why he allowed the sale. However, he said Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit knows, and found the decision to be “flawless.”
Blue and White’s focus on the submarines “is an attempt to distract from the fact that we have to choose between a government that brought about the best situation in the history of the state or a left-wing government with Lapid as prime minister, leaning on Meretz and the Arab parties, which support terrorism,” Netanyahu said.Earlier in the evening, Ashkenazi said on Meet the Press that he’s not afraid of a lawsuit from Netanyahu.“If he wants to deal with us in court, please do. Come and answer our questions,” Ashkenazi said.The former IDF chief of staff called the Submarines Affair “very serious,” and warned that “allowing Egypt to buy advanced submarines hurts Israel’s advantage in the Mediterranean.”Asked why he didn’t warn against buying more submarines from Germany when he was chief of staff, Ashkenazi said: “In 2010... I got instructions from the prime minister on the phone to get a sixth submarine, when a year earlier we said we only needed five, and I didn’t understand it. As chief of staff, I didn’t ask the prime minister for a declaration of assets.“The prime minister should be above any suspicion,” said Ashkenazi, who went through an extensive investigation on suspicion of trying to undermine the defense minister when he was chief of staff, which was later dropped.Over the weekend, Netanyahu ordered that a Likud campaign video posted on his Facebook page be taken down for mocking Channel 12 political commentator and disabled IDF veteran Amnon Abramovich.The video featured comedian Yossi Vider, wearing heavy makeup to look like Abramovich, whose face was scarred when a missile hit the tank he was in during the Yom Kippur War. Abramovich is also known to be highly critical of Netanyahu. Saturday night, a few dozen disabled IDF veterans gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence to protest the video.“Sometimes they do nonsense in the campaign,” Netanyahu said in the interview, “So I told them to take it down.”Then, Netanyahu said the media often mocks his and his wife’s appearance, and accused them of “hypocrisy” for their outrage over the Abramovich impression.Throughout Netanyahu’s Saturday night interview, he made comments about what he described as unfair treatment, saying the channel’s weeknight anchor Yonit Levi was soft on Gantz.Response of @BlueWhite2019 to @netanyahu interview: He did it because he realized he will lose, he made up fake secret reason for allowing sale of German subs to Egypt, and he didnt answer how he made millions in stocks.— Gil Hoffman (@Gil_Hoffman) March 23, 2019