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February 23, 2019 1:08 pm

Netanyahu: Criticism of Deal With Far-Right Party ‘Hypocrisy and Double Standards’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a statement at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, Dec. 19, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday struck out at critics of a deal he brokered with far-right party Otzma Yehudit, accusing them of “hypocrisy and double standards.”

Netanyahu has faced mounting criticism after he helped negotiate a merger between the Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit parties, including by promising the unified party two ministries in the next government.

The criticism has extended to the US, with the American Jewish Committee and pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC slamming the deal.

According to Yediot Aharonot, the prime minister blasted the left for attacking him “while they worked to bring Islamist radicals into the Knesset.”

In 1999, said Netanyahu, then-prime minister Ehud Barak “participated in an elections conference with the inciting Sheikh Raed Salah,” a reference to a prominent leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement who has made antisemitic and anti-Israel statements.

Referring to a former Knesset member for the Balad party who fled the country after being caught spying for Syria, Netanyahu added, “Representatives of Labor and Meretz voted for Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hezbollah, to enter the Knesset.”

Speaking of former Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu asserted, “Herzog worked to reach a vote exchange deal with the [Arab] Joint List and said that Arab MKs are legitimate [to serve in] the government.”

The left is criticizing unity on the right as unacceptable, said the prime minister, “but working to bring inciters and spies against Israel into the Knesset is legitimate. The height of absurdity.”

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