Yuli Edelstein strikes back at Likud threats

Netanyahu and his political allies said Edelstein lost his chance to become Israel's next president because he did not block the Knesset plenum from convening.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on the night the 22nd Knesset voted to disperse (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on the night the 22nd Knesset voted to disperse
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and his associates fired back on Monday at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and anonymous Likud leaders who had criticized him for agreeing to convene the Knesset plenum on Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution.
Netanyahu and his political allies said Edelstein lost his chance to become Israel’s next president because he did not block the Knesset plenum from convening and that Edelstein had “surrendered to the Left and fell in its trap.”
Edelstein said he was satisfied with his decision to convene the plenum of January 28 and would not be impacted by the attacks. Officials close to him went further.
“When they attack him, it doesn’t move him at all,” an official close to Edelstein said. “Bibi trying to bring him down definitely hurts the Likud campaign. He needs to win centrist votes from Blue and White, and this isn’t the way to do it. Bibi should have let Yuli be the face of the campaign, because he is statesmanlike and can bring those votes.”
Edelstein’s associates noted that instead of caving into Blue and White’s demands to convene the plenum last week, he helped Netanyahu by stalling the vote for two weeks.
“Netanyahu has no gratitude, but many Likudniks are strengthening him,” an official close to Edelstein said.
One of the only Likud MKs who openly attacked Edelstein was faction chairman Miki Zohar, who addressed the July 2021 race for president in which Edelstein is expected to be a candidate.
“I personally am happy the vote for president is by secret ballot,” Zohar told KAN Radio. “If anyone thought Edelstein’s decision to convene the plenum would bring him votes from the Left in the race for president, they made a bad political decision.
Blue and White MK Moshe Ya’alon, who left Likud due to disputes with Netanyahu, criticized the prime minister for painting his political opponents as leftists.
“Now everyone is a leftist, even Yuli Edelstein,” he said mockingly. “I am glad I am not there [in Likud] anymore.”
The plenum is expected to vote next Tuesday to form a Knesset House Committee. Blue and White will convene the committee on immunity next Wednesday or Thursday, with a goal of holding a vote to reject immunity for the prime minister within two weeks after that.
Once the immunity request has been formally rejected, Netanyahu’s indictment could be filed to the Jerusalem District Court, and he would not be able to request immunity from the next Knesset, even if he would obtain a majority.