Former foreign minister MK Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beytenu faction within the joint Likud / Yisrael Beytenu list, mounted a harsh verbal attack Tuesday on the newspaper Israel Hayom, which he called "Pravda" – a reference to the press organ of the communist party in the Soviet Union, which was famous for its lies in the service of a dictatorial government.
"This is a newspaper that represents interests only, and no ideology," Lieberman said, in an interview for Radio Jerusalem.
Lieberman was incensed by a report in Israel Hayom, according to which former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupoliansky intends to run for Jerusalem mayor in the coming elections. If Lupliansky, who is from the hareidi stream, runs for office, this could take away votes from Moshe Leon, the candidate whom Lieberman favors, and who has also been endorsed by Shas. The MK accused the newspaper of serving the interests of the current mayor, Nir Barkat.
"If it looks like spin, sounds like spin and smells like spin – it is spin," Lieberman said. "If you take into account that it was published in the Pravda Israel Hayom newspaper, then it is obviously spin from the Barkat staff."
Israel Hayom, which is distributed for free, is owned by financier Sheldon Adelson and is widely perceived as harboring less hatred toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu than the rest of Israel's press. Its fiercer opponents accuse it of slavishly serving the prime minister's interests.
When the interviewer noted that the paper is perceived as pro-Netanyahu, Lieberman – who is number two on the Knesset list headed by Netanyahu – avoided the subject and focused on the race for Jerusalem mayorship. He said that the newspaper is "a personal, not an ideological newspaper… There is no doubt that it is only representing one candidate here, and a clear interest, not an objective view of political approach."