Fact Check: Seven myths in Netanyahu’s recent statements

An examination of what Netanyahu has said recently in the interviews and his own broadcasts found that not everything the prime minister has said has been entirely accurate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia September 12, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia September 12, 2019.
With the election just four days away, Benjamin Netanyahu has gone on a blitz of interviews, yelling his trademark “Gevalt” to pull votes away from the smaller right-wing parties. 
An examination of what the prime minister has said in interviews and his own broadcasts found that not everything has been entirely accurate. Here are seven incorrect statements from the past two weeks:
1. Likud will lose: Netanyahu told KAN on Thursday morning that if the election happened now, he would not win the election. But pollster Rafi Smith, who takes polls for both Netanyahu and Maariv, found that Likud would win the most seats in the election.
2. Mandelblit blocked annexation: In the KAN interview, Netanyahu said that he would have annexed the Jordan Valley before the election but Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit blocked him. The Justice Ministry released a statement shortly thereafter denying this, saying that Netanyahu asked a more general question about legislation in a transition government. The Central Elections Committee fined Likud on Thursday for saying Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley speech was not election propaganda when it was.
3. Quitting before disengagement: In an August 30 Facebook Live post, Netanyahu said the Right was wrong to blame him for the 2005 Gaza Strip withdrawal. “The moment [then-prime minister Ariel] Arik Sharon said he would evacuate communities, I quit,” Netanyahu said. Netanyahu not only stayed in the cabinet, he repeatedly voted for disengagement and refused the calls of rebel Likud MKs to stop it. Netanyahu only quit on August 9, 2005, six days before the withdrawal, when it was no longer possible to prevent the withdrawal.
4. Not seeking immunity: Netanyahu told KAN that after the April 9 election, he did not push for a bill that could have allowed him to obtain immunity from prosecution. But on May 20, Netanyahu confidant Mikki Zohar submitted a bill proposing that MKs be granted immunity from prosecution by default unless the Knesset House Committee would vote to remove immunity from them.
5. Lapid backed the Iran deal: Netanyahu has said repeatedly in recent days that Blue and White co-prime ministerial candidate Yair Lapid backed the international community’s JCPOA deal with Iran. In fact, Lapid worked actively against the deal, and spoke out against it to the media and on trips abroad including to the US, where he privately told legislators to oppose it.
6. Blue and White backs second disengagement: Netanyahu told Makor Rishon on Thursday that “Blue and White is in favor of uprooting,” and that its leaders have said that they “will implement the disengagement better next time.” Blue and White responded that they do not support a unilateral West Bank withdrawal, and have never said anything about a second disengagement.
7. Develop Hebron Market: Netanyahu told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that he had given instructions to develop the historic Hebron marketplace. The truth is that expectations for a dramatic announcement were high last week when Netanyahu visited Hebron. Its tiny Jewish community and many right-wing politicians have called on Netanyahu to authorize the development of the abandoned property, which adjoins the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in the Old City. The land belonged to Hebron’s pre-1929 Jewish community. Palestinians, however, had rented market stalls built on the property during the Jordanian occupation as protected tenants.
For security reasons, the IDF has prevented Palestinians from using the property for the last two decades. Hebron’s Jewish community wants permission to develop the property, but Netanyahu left Hebron without making any commitment, except for a vague statement about addressing issues relating to Jewish property from the pre-1929 Jewish community, which was destroyed in 1929 Hebron Massacre.
Hebron Jewish community spokesman Noam Arnon and director-general of the Hebron Jewish community Uri Karzen both said that they did not know of those instructions. Yishai Fleisher, Hebron Jewish community’s English-language spokesman, said that what mattered was Netanyahu’s public statement and not the exact detail of whether he had actually issued an order to develop the marketplace.
While that might be true for Fleisher, the statement Netanyahu made to Arutz Sheva was not accurate. But as shown in previous election campaigns, when courting votes, the exact truth is not always that important.