Netanyahu Claims Iranian Regime Openly Supports Gantz

Kahol Lavan members attack Netanyahu for misuse of classified materials

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 10, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 10, 2019. Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in on Saturday that the Iranian regime openly supports Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, his rivals in the upcoming election who co-chair the political alliance Kahol Lavan.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 18Credit: Haaretz

A video, posted on Netanyahu's Twitter account, addressed a report that the personal phone of former army chief of staff Gantz had been hacked by Iran, also touching upon Lapid's accusation that Netanyahu used classified information to slander Gantz ahead of the April 9 election.

“Lies by Yair Lapid, half-runner for prime minister, will not help. The Shin Bet confirmed that the prime minister knew nothing of the hacking, and senior journalists say the same,” the video said. “This is an attempt by Gantz and Lapid to distort the fact that the Iranian regime openly supports them and that they backed the Iran nuclear deal while Netanyahu fought against it.”

A campaign video tweeted by Netanyahu (in Hebrew)

>> Amos Harel: Gantz phone-hacking affair: 9 questions that must be answered ■ Explained: How Iran hacking scandal could end Gantz's chance to be Israel's next leader

The video then plays a recording, allegedly from Kol-David, a Hebrew-speaking Iranian state radio, which says “Gantz is the alternative.”

Meanwhile, a new campaign ad by Kahol Lavan attacked Netanyahu's performance as prime minister, showing Gantz and senior party members Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi accuse him of various wrongdoings and brandishing their security credentials.

Statements by Kahol Lavan members (in Hebrew).

In the video, the four slammed Netanyahu "for paying 15 million dollars in protection money to Hamas" and for selling himself and the country "to the Kahanists," noting: "You've been indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust."

Lapid lambasted Netanyahu for selling "our children's education to Smotrich," referring to the far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich.

Yoaz Hendel, a member of Kahol Lavan, also wrote Saturday: “Forget about the delusional campaign videos. To take classified materials from an Iranian cyberattack and use them against a political rival is crossing a red line. It’s worse than the leak of the classified materials during Operation Protective Edge, worse than running to television studios in order to take credit for attacking the nuclear reactor in Syria.”

In a press conference on Friday, Gantz stated that no compromising data was found on the phone, and said the whole matter was “a political spin” meant to obscure Israel's real issues. He reassured his party members that there are no sex tapes of him and said "I'm not under threat of extortion."

Ashkenazi addressed the affair on Channel 12 news on Friday, saying “It’s no coincidence that it is leaked at this moment. Instead of talking about what’s happening in Gaza, we are talking about Benny’s phone.”

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