Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon cancelled his participation at a Likud glass-raising event on Tuesday after learning that fellow party member MK Oren Hazan would be giving a speech there. The event was held in the home of MK David Bitan, shortly after the police announced that it recommended indicting Hazan on suspicion of assaulting a public official and inappropriate behavior.
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TV Channel 2 news reported that before the event Ya’alon told his associates that “Oren Hazan disgraces the Likud movement and its values,” and that he was “unwilling to participate in this masked ball.”
According to the report, Ya’alon said he had received many calls from Likud members regarding the Hazan affair, adding that “it’s time to say clearly what the majority is thinking.” The minister’s bureau confirmed what was broadcast.
Instead of arriving at the celebration, Ya’alon said some words in honor of the swearing in of new MK Sharren Haskel, in which he stressed the importance of improving the ruling party’s image. “In this house [the Knesset] you represent, MK Haskel, the Likud and mainly its young wing. Remember our core values and don’t compromise them. Remember that they were laid down by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, a real democrat and source of emulation and respect even today.”
In response, Hazan asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Ya’alon from his post. “I am appealing to you, Prime Minister. I can no longer remain silent. Moshe Ya’alon is neglecting the security of Israel’s residents and settlers,” he wrote in a letter he posted on Facebook. “After a long period in which I restrained myself things have become personal. The defense minister has lost his wits and instead of dealing matter-of-factly with problems I have raised, he decided to eliminate the messenger – myself. I have lost confidence in him. The defense minister no longer represents the Likud and the right-wing government. I appeal to you to remove him from his post.”
In an interview to Channel 2 news, Hazan said that Ya’alon arrived at the event but conditioned his remaining there on Hazan’s removal. “He said: it’s Oren or me. They didn’t agree to expel me so he went home. Likud members chose me and that’s nice.”
On Tuesday the police announced that they had sufficient evidence against Hazan in the matter of assault and unseemly behavior. The file will be handed over to the State Prosecutor’s Office which will decide whether to prosecute Hazan, who is suspected of assaulting the director of the Ariel municipality, Avi Ezer, during an argument in 2014. The incident occurred before Hazan became an MK and the investigation also commenced then.
In July the Knesset Ethics Committee announced that it would not deal with complaints against Hazan following an investigative report on Channel 2 regarding his conduct while managing a casino in Bulgaria. The complaints stated that his conduct, based on the TV report, according to which he procured prostitutes for his clients and allegedly bought drugs, directly damages the Knesset’s reputation. The Knesset’s legal advisor, attorney Eyal Yinon, asserted that the committee was unauthorized to deal with such complaints since they covered a period before Hazan became a Knesset member.