Education Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday after reports emerged that Netanyahu asked the Walla News website to publish reports stating that the religious minister's wife worked as a pastry chef in a non-kosher restaurant.
The Israel Television News Company reported that Netanyahu had asked longtime friend Shaul Elovitch, former owner of Walla, to report the false claims about Gilat Bennett. Elovitch is suspected of taking bribes from Netanyahu in the corruption scandal dubbed "Case 4000."
"I feel sorry for you, Mr. Netanyahu," Bennett tweeted, "You took the trouble to personally call the owner of Walla to hurt my wife, and this is a despicable and cowardly act."
Bennett added, "I married Gilat, a wonderful woman from a secular and ethical home, and together we founded a wonderful Zionist religious home. My family is the pride of my life, do not apologize to me, I am not interested, apologize to my wife."
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Likud responded to the accusations, saying: "There is no limit to Bennett's hypocrisy, he is the one who has to apologize. Many journalists know that from the moment he left Netanyahu's office, Bennett never stopped speaking ill of Sara Netanyahu and slandering her at every opportunity."
The report about Netanyahu's request was published by associates of Elovitch, the former controlling shareholder of Bezeq and Walla News. "There is a news site that criticizes the prime minister every day," the associates said. "What's wrong with the owners trying to moderate the criticism a bit against a man who is his friend and his regulator?"
To prove that Elovitch only followed Netanyahu's requests when he agreed with their content, people close to him cited the example of the report against Gilat Bennett, which Elovitch reportedly refused to publish. "Elovitch helped Netanyahu only when he thought he was right, and they did not agree to publish such a thing."
Last month, Bennett demanded that the position of defense minister be given to him after Avigdor Lieberman resigned. After Netanyahu decided to take the job for himself, it was thought that Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would resign. The two however decided to stay in the government.