Former prime minister Naftali Bennett hit out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for what he called an "abominable lie" after the government approved the NIS 30 billion Arab sector five-year plan initiated by Bennett's government.
The five-year plan was drawn up by Israel's former government, led by Bennett and opposition head Yair Lapid after it was agreed upon during coalition negotiations with Ra'am.
The plan originally drew heavy criticism from Netanyahu and other right-wing politicians, with the former prime minister often accused of "selling the country to the Muslim Brothers and Ra'am head MK Mansour Abbas." The sum allocated was also inflated by opposition to the five-year plan, as claims echoed by Likud MKs that the government allocated up to 50 billion to the Arab sector were found to be incorrect.
On Friday, Netanyahu's government moved to include funding for the plan in its state budget, which was approved in a cabinet meeting last week.
Bennett sets out to debunk Netanyahu's lie 'once and for all'
In a scathing Twitter thread, Bennett claimed that Netanyahu "admitted to the terrible lie" that "Bennett transferred 53 billion shekels to the Islamic Movement and Hamas" by approving the same exact plan in his state budget.
*ביום שישי האחרון נחשף השקר המתועב מכל של בנימין נתניהו*במשך שנה הוביל בנימין נתניהו קמפיין תעמולה שעיקרו: ״בנט מעביר 53 מיליארד שקלים לתנועה האיסלמית וגם לחמאס, לכן יהודים נרצחים ברחובות. דם הנרצחים על ידיו״ >>— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) February 26, 2023
"Benjamin Netanyahu is the head of a propaganda-spreading machine," the former prime minister wrote. "My government approved a NIS 6 billion-a-year-plan which Netanyahu and his 'poison machine' distorted into a [funding scheme for terror organizations].
"The MKs, the online bots, the bullies hurling insults outside [Environmental Protection Minister Idit] Silman's home - they all echoed this lie, following Netanyahu's lead," Bennett continued. "And it worked."
Bennett stressed that the "horrible lie was carried out knowingly, premeditatedly, with complete cynicism" while crossing every red line, "all for political gain," the former prime minister said.The former prime minister signed off by writing, "I have to debunk this lie once and for all, for the sake of truth and history - shame on you, Netanyahu and Smotrich. You poisoned the minds of millions of Israelis on purpose."
אני מוכרח להזים את השקר הזה מיסודו. למען האמת וההיסטוריה. אין לי אלא לומר:תתביישו לכם, מר נתניהו ומר סמוטריץ׳.הרעלתם את המוחות של מיליוני ישראלים בכוונת תחילה. ההיסטוריה לא תשכח לכם את השקר הנתעב.— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) February 26, 2023
Likud responds, says Bennett is 'lying as usual'
Only a few minutes following the release of Bennett's statement, Netanyahu's Likud faction issued a response in which it claims that "as usual, Bennett lies."
"Unlike Bennett, we did not approve NIS 5 billion without any supervision of the money flow to terrorist-supporting organizations," Likud said in a statement. "Unlike Bennett, we did not commit the biggest act of fraud the State of Israel has ever seen."