All of the details regarding a controversial forged document during the time of Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff must be revealed to the public ahead of the March 2 election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday night.
In a Facebook Live post, Netanyahu reacted to recordings revealed Sunday on Channel 13 of Ashkenazi and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who was the IDF’s chief lawyer at the time of the document’s publication in 2010.
"Gabi Ashkenazi should reveal all the recordings to the public," Netanyahu said. "What is Ashkenazi afraid of?"
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said she had asked Mandelblit to insist on the Supreme Court ordering all the tapes revealed.
“It must come out,” Regev told Army Radio. “The public must know what was in the tapes, including alleged obstruction of justice. There cannot be one law for Netanyahu and one law for [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz and for Mandelblit. Ashkenazi himself should insist on revealing all the transcripts to the public.”
In a session of the Knesset plenum on Monday, Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar mocked Blue and White leaders about the reports.
“There was a very interesting investigative report on a scandal of leaks involving the attorney-general and the IDF chief of staff, and this you don’t talk about,” Zohar shouted at Gantz and MK Yair Lapid. “This is clean? Only you are the saints, the honest, the pure.”
Lapid responded by holding up three fingers in honor of Netanyahu’s three criminal probes.
Ashkenazi responded to the reports in an interview with Channel 13 on Monday night. He said the recordings were nearly a decade old and had been broadcast in the past. He said there were thousands of conversations of him as IDF chief of staff that were checked by police, the state comptroller and the attorney-general, who decided to close the investigation. He said that by contrast, former prime minister Ehud Barak made sure the tapes from when he was IDF chief of staff would be broken or burned.
Barak responded with a series of tweets, saying "I will not let lies ruin the chance to replace the government. Not Netanyahu's lies, nor Gabi Ashkenazi's lies."
"In fact, Ashkenazi has repeatedly lied to police investigators, Chief military officers and the public. And he's lying tonight, too:"
Barak went on to list ways in which he alleges Ashkenazi either misled or outright lied to the public.
"A) The Non-Disclosure Agreement includes about 15 conversations (neither with his dentist nor with childhood friends) which portray Ashkenazi in the light of an alleged criminal."
"B) The person responsible for destroying the recordings in the minister's office is a senior officer in the Defense Ministry, who is close to Ashkenazi, acting on his behalf and with his knowledge. The Minister's Bureau had no access to the tapes on both sides of the building."
"C) The issues raised so far are just the tip of the iceberg. In order to minimize the possible damage, I will avoid raising them.
“I do not know of a public figure revealed in such a manner,” he said. “I already said I should have behaved differently in the episode but it is behind me. Everything was checked, and I have nothing to worry about.”
Channel 13 revealed new tapes Monday night, which showed how embarrassed Ashkenazi was in August 2010 after the document was revealed and it became clear how long he has had it.
A new survey taken by pollster Camil Fuchs for Channel 13 in the aftermath of its initial reports about Ashkenazi’s tapes found that if elections were held now, Blue and White would win 36 seats, Likud would win 33, Joint List 14, Labor-Gesher-Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu eight each and Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism seven each.
Asked if a minority government led by Blue and White and backed from outside the coalition by the Joint List would be legitimate, 44% said yes, 33% said no and 23% said they did not know or had no opinion. The poll of 709 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli population, had a 3.85% margin of error. Idan Zonshine contributed to this report.