Advisor to PM allegedly urged Meron bereaved families to promote Netanyahu

Rivka Paluch, who was appointed as the prime minister's contact with the families of victims of the Meron tragedy, turned to the bereaved families in recent days with highly unusual requests.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu with parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch, who tested positive for the coronavirus (photo credit: Courtesy)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu with parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch, who tested positive for the coronavirus
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s adviser on haredi issues, Rivka Paluch, was suspended after allegedly trying to convince bereaved family members of victims of the Mount Meron tragedy to promote Netanyahu and his wife Sara, N12 first reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Paluch, who was appointed as the prime minister’s contact with the families of victims of the Meron tragedy, turned to the bereaved families in recent days with highly unusual and inappropriate requests.
According to testimonies first published by news website N12, Paluch asked bereaved family members to film videos showing support for Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu.

“Maybe you could film a video for the prime minister and say a few words?,” she asked, according to one testimony by a representative of the bereaved families.
“As if we were meant to console the prime minister, instead of it being the other way around. As soon as he was done, Paluch said: ‘And maybe say a few words to Sara Netanyahu, support her for all she’s going through?’.”
“I was shocked, I asked her: ‘Why did the prime minister not come to console us? We didn’t even receive a phone call. She said: ‘If he calls you, he will need to call everyone.’”
A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office following the publications has denied any and all involvement by the Netanyahu family in Paluch’s alleged actions.
“The prime minister and his wife never asked for support from bereaved families. Any insinuations to the contrary are considered slander. The issue will be looked into and dealt with accordingly,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office read.
Paluch has since denied the accusations made against her, claiming that bereaved family members were the ones to approach her, asking to film the promotional videos.
“I visited the homes of the families with awe and reverence. I tried to respect any and all requests... I deny asking or pressuring anyone. I gladly complied with the various requests,” a statement by Paluch read.
Nonetheless, she was suspended over the weekend.
Paluch, 65, served as adviser on haredi issues to former prime minister Ariel Sharon before returning to the Prime Minister’s Office as adviser on haredi matters to Netanyahu in 2016.
Netanyahu currently faces several challenges from different fronts, including his ongoing corruption trial and failure to establish a government for the fourth time in the past two years.