Netanyahu pans 'celebration of hypocrisy,' says 'receiving gifts is legal'

"I don't want to say that the cigars and champagne have gone to your head," Herzog jests.

January 25, 2017 17:03
1 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced questions from opposition politicians on Wednesday as the Knesset held a Prime Minister's Questions Hour.

The question hour came as the prime minister has been investigated by police in two separate criminal affairs in recent weeks and, as expected, the opposition wasted no time bringing the matter up with Netanyahu.

The prime minister refused to address most of the questions on the probes into his alleged improper gift-taking from millionaire Arnon Milchin and alleged quid pro quo deal-making with the publisher of daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, however at the end of the question and answer session he said: "I've heard a long line of things said here about backdoor contacts, the dissolution of the government. I hear the ridicule and defiance, a celebration for hypocrisy. Just wait, what a carnival of arrogance. I am forbidden from speaking about the investigations."

However, Netanyahu did respond to reactions to his legal matters from politicians and the media, saying, "According to the law, it is legal to receive gifts. Only against me do they distort the law."

Following Netanyahu's remarks, opposition leader Isaac Herzog took the podium and answered, "Mr. prime minister, I think that this plenum feels deeply embarrased because your behavior shows that you can't make decisions in a cool-headed manner and you are up to your neck in investigations."

Mocking reports that Netanyahu allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of champagne and cigars from Milchin, Hergog added, "I don't want to say that the cigars and champagne have gone to your head."

Question Hour, while a longstanding practice in the UK's House of Commons nicknamed PMQs, is new to the Knesset. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. So, rather than weekly PMQs like in the UK, the Knesset has annual PMQs and regular MQs. Monday was Netanyahu's first-ever time in the hot seat, or the hot podium, if you will.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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