The attorney general is set to forbid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party from publishing photos of the premier with Israeli soldiers up until the election, in response to a petition by the Labor Party on the issue.
Under the Elections Law, it is forbidden to publicize anything that could create the impression that the military supports a particular candidate. Likud has previously used pictures of Netanyahu with soldiers even when they weren’t relevant to the specific circumstances. For example, Likud’s website features an article about Netanyahu’s economic achievements illustrated with a photo of him with soldiers, even though it has no connection to the text.
Netanyahu’s Facebook page also boasts pictures of him with or without his wife, Sara, alongside groups of soldiers.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit believes that photos featuring soldiers should be forbidden on personal political platforms, including Netanyahu’s Facebook page, which has 2.3 million followers, and his Twitter account, which has 1.5 million followers. However, Mendelblit maintains that on official platforms, such as the prime minister’s Facebook account (1.2 million followers) and Twitter handle, there is no problem with posting such photos.
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The Labor party claims that Netanyahu’s frequent use of photographs with soldiers, “Misleads the voting public into thinking that the Israel Defense Force completely identifies with the Likud’s election campaign. The Labor Party believes the prime minister is making cold, cynical and narrow use of the IDF and its soldiers, and he is blinding the public into thinking that the IDF is part of his and the Likud’s election campaign.”
Likud said in response that the photos it uses are newsworthy and serve the public’s right to know: “At issue are posts that are newsworthy and informative, which serve important interests like the public’s right to know. Still photos documenting moments from the prime minister and defense minister’s visits to bases during the course of his work cannot create a misleading impression among Israelis – most of who were born here, were educated in the institutions of this democratic country, took civics classes and served in the IDF – that the IDF is identified with Likud.”