Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly crossed redlines and has shown disrespect to women, New Hope Knesset candidate Yoaz Hendel said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Hendel, who was a spokesman for Netanyahu, spoke after Netanyahu put down New Hope’s No. 2, Knesset Coronavirus Committee head Yifat Shasha-Biton, in a KAN Reshet Bet interview. When asked to explain why nearly 6,000 Israelis have died from the virus, Netanyahu said: “Ask the Shashot and the pakot and the paka.”
The Urban Dictionary says that while PakaPaka usually means “blah blah blah,” in Israel, it is used as a derogatory term meaning, “You are full of s***.”
Hendel, speaking to the Post at the Knesset, noted that in another recent interview, Netanyahu acted as if he was unaware of the #MeToo movement.
Hendel quit in 2012 as Netanyahu’s director of communications and public diplomacy after the prime minister told his aide he had lost confidence in him. The rift was caused after Hendel informed the attorney-general that Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Natan Eshel, had sexually harassed a female Netanyahu adviser.
“I cannot forget his moral failure back then,” Hendel said. “He decided to support power because it was convenient to him. I see it again now with the way he relates to Yifat by mocking her. It’s not respectful for a prime minister to act that way. If someone else would have said ‘Shashot,’ there would be an uproar.”
Hendel said Netanyahu’s comments also showed how the prime minister repeatedly avoids taking responsibility.
“For years, he has taken credit for whatever has gone right, even if done by others, and blamed others for what has gone wrong, even if it was done by him,” he said. “The vaccines are him. The economic crisis is [the fault of] others.”
Israel is going into a fourth election in two years because Netanyahu preferred initiating an election over passing a state budget, Hendel said. Shortly after the outgoing government was formed, Netanyahu already decided to topple it and acted accordingly, he said.
“I did everything possible to make the government work, except lying on the floor to be dragged over,” Hendel said. “I initially thought Netanyahu finally decided to be statesmanlike. But it took him two weeks to decide otherwise, and since then there have been problems. This election is a failure for him. A mayor with no budget is removed from office. Any company executive who fails four times would be fired.”
Hendel, who ran with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party in the last three elections, said the lesson that must be learned was that Netanyahu can only be replaced by the Right, and that is why he joined Gideon Sa’ar’s party. He said he could have joined Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party, but he wanted to be on a list committed to replacing Netanyahu.
“My choice was based on who could bring change,” he said. “Sa’ar was the man who was most determined. You don’t make the same mistake twice. I hear Bennett, and I don’t hear change. If Bibi can form a government with Bennett, I think Bennett will join him.”
Hendel said he hopes Netanyahu will be able to end his political career in a respectful manner.
After his successes in bringing high-speed Internet to the periphery and other reforms as communications minister, the next challenge Hendel said wants is to reform the Israel Police as minister of public security in the next government.
“The police have failed in providing security to people, and Bibi cannot blame Yifat Shasha-Biton for that,” he said.