MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Sunday accused the Yediot Achronot daily newspaper of running a political campaign against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Yediot Achronot, once Israel’s most read newspaper, has fallen to second place in popularity since the free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom entered the market. Yisrael Hayom is owned by Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close friend of Netanyahu, and has a clear pro-Netanyahu stance. In an attempt to fight Yisrael Hayom’s popularity, Yediot Achronot has taken a very strong anti-Netanyahu stance.
Hotovely told Arutz Sheva that Yediot’s report from Friday, which claimed that Netanyahu agreed to give up the Golan Heights during secret negotiations with Syria, is part of that anti-Netanyahu campaign. Netanyahu’s office denied the report, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday that while there were contacts with Syria, Israel did not offer it the Golan Heights.
Hotovely wondered how come, after years of arguing that Netanyahu’s rightist policy cuts off Israel from the world, suddenly Yediot portrayed him as a supporter of peace who is willing to give up the Golan Heights. She added that this is nothing more than a political campaign against Netanyahu which should be ignored in light of the ongoing civil war in Syria.
“I was unfazed to see this obviously tendentious headline, and unfortunately I’ve gotten used to first of all looking at the name of the newspaper and then reading the articles in it,” she said.
Hotovely pointed out that over the last four years, Netanyahu has been careful to maintain his political policy within the right, adding that his election campaign will also be to this effect. She said that Netanyahu sees the preservation of the settlement enterprise as an ideological and political value, noting that expulsions from communities in Judea and Samaria that took place under his tenure were a result of problems in the relationship between the prosecution and the judicial system and not an expression of Netanyahu’s policy.
She said that the report on the concessions on the Golan is merely a smear campaign against Netanyahu by Yediot Achronot which, according to Hotovely, is “a newspaper which prefers to promote former criminals (perhaps referring to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri –ed.) rather than respect a very popular prime minister.”
“We know who the next Prime Minister will be – Binyamin Netanyahu,” said Hotovely. “The question which now remains is whether we will find ourselves losing our leadership by one Knesset seat. Netanyahu does not want to go back there. He wants a big Likud. He wants to take seats from his partners, such as Yisrael Beytenu and Shas, which has lost its way and is beginning to think about bringing back offenders... things are playing in Netanyahu’s favor, and his campaign will be a right-centered one based on his desire for the Likud to be a big party.”