Likud moves to curb fallout from damaging reports

Likud MK says the party feels it is "being sabotaged by those who are afraid of us."

bibi sarah netanyahu 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
bibi sarah netanyahu 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Likud Party officials scrambled to downplay the most recent details of opposition chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's allegedly profligate trip to London, amid claims this weekend that he used the Israel Bonds company as his private travel agent. The State of Israel Bonds, an Israeli development corporation, was given the dates and destinations of Netanyahu's NIS 131,000 trip, and told to "arrange things," according to an article published in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper over the weekend. The paper quotes Israel Bonds Chairman Joshua Matza, who said he was given very short notice of Netanyahu's trip. In one case, Netanyahu called Matza and told him that he had to be in Paris to meet with French President Nicholas Sarkozy. He asked that Matza add him to a list of conference speakers slated to appear in Paris that same week. When the request was denied, Netanyahu reportedly told Matza to find him a different event so that he could travel to France through Israel Bonds. Likud Party officials dismissed the Yediot Aharonot article in a statement Saturday. "This article is motivated by blatant political considerations, in an attempt to harm the Likud's and Netanyahu's chances to return to power in Israel," the statement read. The statement added that the accusations were unfounded and that the trip had been conducted for public relations purposes. A Likud MK added that the party felt it was "being sabotaged by those who are afraid of us." "They are feeding the newspapers this information slowly, so that it continues to be a headline and so that the public continues to read about it," said the MK. However, according to a poll published in the daily Ma'ariv last week, Netanyahu still holds the clear lead in the next national election. The poll showed that despite 60.2 percent of the Israeli public stating that Netanyahu's reputation had been damaged by the story of his extravagant spending, the Likud Party would still receive 30 seats in the next election - a clear lead above Labor (19 seats) and Kadima (15 seats).