Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Thursday attacked the leaders of Kahol Lavan, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, calling Lapid a "contagious disease," after Gantz said he would prefer to form a secular government. (For the latest election polls - click here)
"We think he made a tragic mistake when [Benny Gantz] took Lapid into his list," Litzman, who heads the United Torah Judaism party, told Israel Radio. "We said that we would not join Gantz with Lapid… I don't go with someone who joined Lapid."
Litzman said that, until Wednesday, he never attacked Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu's rival in the premiership race, but that Gantz had "changed the game."
"I was good to him, I said 'I can go with Gantz as long as Lapid isn't with him.' But… it seems that Lapid is a contagious disease that also infected Gantz, so in my eyes they are the same," Litzman said.
Litzman said Lapid was "infected with anti-Semitism."
When asked whether accusing a fellow lawmaker of anti-Semitism and referring to him as a "contagious disease" was too harsh, Litzman said he stands by his accusations.
Lapid responded to Litzman's attack, saying, "The Israeli public will not surrender to Litzman's incitement and the Haredi politicos. They don't have a monopoly on Judaism and they won't preach to us about anti-Semitism."
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"Litzman thinks that over a million Kahol Lavan voters are a 'disease' - the answer will come at the polls," Lapid added.
Litzman was responding to an earlier interview with Gantz, in which he said that after the September 17 vote he would seek to form a broad secular government, based on Likud and his Kahol Lavan party, and only later would ask the ultra-Orthodox and other parties if they are interested in also joining the government.
Litzman, who police recommended indicting for helping an accused pedophile evade extradition, told Israel Radio he doesn't know Malka Leifer, who could face charges for 74 incidents of sexual assault and rape in Australia.