BENJAMIN NETANYAHU addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington in March..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was harshly criticized by members of the opposition on Tuesday after he canceled all of his pre-Rosh Hashana interviews with media outlets.
Netanyahu had scheduled a number of back-to-back interviews with Israeli media outlets, including The Jerusalem Post, but canceled them all on Monday evening. The Post was told the interviews will be re-scheduled later this month. The Prime Minister’s Office said the interviews were canceled for scheduling reasons.
Netanyahu’s schedule on Tuesday included separate meetings with visiting Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, visiting European Council President Donald Tusk, and preparations for his trip on Wednesday to London.
Netanyahu posted a clip to Facebook on Monday, listing his accomplishments in a direct message to the people, which he does each year before the holiday season.
Netanyahu's Facebook message to the public
“We are doing a lot of things for the state. I know you don’t hear about it in the media, but I received a clear mandate in the elections to lead Israel in my way and that is exactly what I’m doing in many areas,” Netanyahu said in the Facebook video message.
He referenced Europe’s current crisis in dealing with an influx of migrants from the Middle East, saying that his actions had prevented such an occurrence in Israel. “You see exactly what’s happening in Europe when countries don’t do this. That won’t happen with me. We put up a fence on the Sinai border that blocks infiltrators and terror. And now we are doing exactly the same thing and building a fence on our eastern border with Jordan.”
Labor MK Merav Michaeli said Netanyahu had “broken his own record of cynicism,” referring to his behavior as “Erdoganism at its best,” in reference to the authoritarian Turkish leader who has cracked down on press freedom.
“The prime minister and communications minister chose to give up a grand stage in the media and instead took to Facebook – in a place where it is impossible to ask him questions – to complain that the media doesn’t give him a stage. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni accused Netanyahu of “avoiding the questions and public discussion which is required in a democratic state.”
She jested that for Netanyahu, “It’s easiest to interview yourself.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also slammed Netanyahu at a conference of the Israel Bar Association, comparing his ruling style to that of the infamous Communist head of state of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu.
Ceausescu’s harsh and repressive regime ruled Romania between 1967 and 1989.
“The era of Ceausescu has ended in Israeli politics,” Herzog said. “When the prime minister and his ministers every morning wage war on culture, the legal system, the press, and freedom of expression, the Israeli citizen thinks - if the prime minister can distort the law than so can I.”