A recording published by Israel's Channel 12 News on Thursday reveals that the political strategist of Kahol Lavan, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival, had said he thinks Benny Gantz might "endanger Israel."
In the recording, Yisrael Bachar is heard expressing concerns to an anonymous associate that "Gantz doesn't have the guts to strike in Iran."
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In addition, Bachar told his interlocutor that Kahol Lavan lawmaker Omer Yankelevich harshly criticized Gantz.
Yankelevich categorically denied the remarks attributed to her by Bachar in the recordings. "The distorted statements that were allegedly attributed to me, by the means of distorting secret recordings of adviser Bachar, are a sad expression of taking things out of contexts and distorting what is said, which is the legacy of Netanyahu and his people to the Israeli society."
Yankelevich added that she is "proud to work by the side of a leader with values, who allows his close surroundings and his party members to voice their stance with respect and without fear, and doesn't cut off the head of anyone who dares to disagree with him."
Kahol Lavan officials told Haaretz that the publication of the recording is "a well-orchestrated attack."
Kahol Lavan senior officials were shocked by the publication of the recordings. Bachar is considered as one of the central figures in the party's campaign team, and in recent days has led the campaign comparing between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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Gantz's party is now trying to sort out under which circumstances Bachar was recorded and how did the tape fell into the hands of the media in such a sensitive timing, four day before Israel's election on March 2.
A Kahol Lavan source has expressed his concern that further information may have leaked out as the right-wing bloc has ratched up its smear campaign against Gantz.
In an official statement, Kahol Lavan said that "we lament that the industry of lies, generated by Likud, is working in full force."
Bachar also served as Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett's strategic adviser before taking part in Kahol Lavan's election campaigns both in April and September.
In an interview with Channel 13 News ahead of the April 9 vote, Bachar said he believed that the leaking of private conversation caused Kahol Lavan "to lose two to three Knesset seats." In reference to Gantz, Bacahr said that "the disadvantage of all new candidates is that they have to brand themselves as soon as possible, while convincing the public that they're really what they are portraying themselves to be."