Bennett to Netanyahu: You have to get rid of Hazan

Former MK Moshe Feiglin, whose former seat representing Judea and Samaria in the Likud faction went to Hazan, blamed his election on Netanyahu.

October 27, 2016 22:30
2 minute read.
Likud MK Oren Hazan

Likud MK Oren Hazan. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must take immediate steps to distance himself and his Likud Party from Likud MK Oren Hazan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said Thursday, in the first criticism by a minister since Hazan suffered a legal blow in court Tuesday.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled that Channel 2 reporter Amit Segal’s story about Hazan’s sordid past at a casino in Burgas, Bulgaria, was defensible. Hazan sued Channel 2 and Segal last October for NIS 1 million for their story in June 2015 that said in the past Hazan hired prostitutes, used hard drugs and bought crystal methamphetamine for his casino’s Israeli patrons.

The court’s decision found the story about the prostitutes and Hazan’s drug use defensible, meaning it was true or based on good faith evidence, dismissing nearly all of his damages claims. In a small victory, the court held that the story about his providing crystal meth to patrons was defamatory and awarded him a mere NIS 40,000.

“As elected officials, we cannot accept a man who did things that are so unethical,” Bennett told Army Radio. “We need to think of our kids who are looking at us. What the judges wrote should raise a red light. This scandal does not add respect to the Knesset or the public’s trust in its elected officials, who must set an example.”

Bennett lamented that the law in Israel does not empower the Knesset to force Hazan to quit, because he did not commit a crime in Israel. Likud institutions could try to force Hazan to leave, but a source close to Likud central committee head Haim Katz said the matter would not come to the committee and Katz would not advance the issue.

“I cannot be scolded by someone who has been repeatedly condemned by the state comptroller for spending taxpayer funds excessively, who dramatically cut teachers’ salaries, and who has abandoned Amona,” Hazan said. “A man who focuses on making videos for Facebook cannot teach me morality.”

Hazan’s Ariel-based family is considered powerful in the central committee. Perhaps for that reason, Likud MKs were reluctant to condemn him. The only Likud MK who responded to the verdict initially was Yehudah Glick, who called it a sad day for the party.

“The acts that were attributed to him are the sort of things that, according to my values, are totally inappropriate for a public figure,” Glick wrote on Facebook. “If he indeed did them, he should take a step back and suspend himself.

Only he knows if he actually did them or not, so he needs to think about it and make a decision on his own, even if it is a painful decision.”

Since then, MK Yoav Kisch called Hazan’s actions unacceptable and hinted that he should consider his political future.

“I wouldn’t be proud if I was him,” Kisch said. “He needs to reach conclusions for himself.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the court had described behavior that is unfit for an elected official and shames the image of MKs.

Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara added that “the Likud must be clean.”

Former MK Moshe Feiglin, whose former seat representing Judea and Samaria in the Likud faction went to Hazan, blamed his election on Netanyahu.

“Bibi wanted Oren Hazan and not Feiglin,” Feiglin said. “He got what he wished for.”

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