Edelstein rips Netanyahu, Regev: 'They ruined the celebration'

Knesset Speaker infuriated after Netanyahu's speech at torch-lighting ceremony went nearly 10 minutes overtime.

Tzvi Lev,

Yuli Edelstein
Yuli Edelstein
Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture Minister Miri Regev after the premier's speech went nearly 10 minutes overtime.

Edelstein and Netanyahu had publically bickered in the weeks leading up to Israel's 70th anniversary ceremony at Mount Herzl after Netanyahu insisted on speaking at the event. This announcement aroused Edelstein's ire, who was upset at the breach of tradition and said that the Knesset Speaker should be the one giving the keynote speech in order to represent the unity of the people embodied by their elected government.

After Edelstein threatened to boycott the official torch lighting ceremony, an agreement was hatched in which Netanyahu would give a short speech before he lit a torch. However, Netanyahu's speech lasted 14 minutes, well past the five minutes he was allotted and infuriating Edelstein, who felt that the prime minister's extended address overshadowed his own.

During a blistering interview with Channel 10 on Thursday evening, Edelstein said that Netanyahu had willfully deceived him and warned that his breach of trust would have far-reaching consequences. "I remind you that this was not an agreement behind closed doors where it was my word against his," said Edelstein. "There was a written statement about this from the Prime Minister's Office."

"This saga will influence (our relationship)," added Edelstein."The trust has been damaged. I hold and continue to hold that trust is an important component for a leader. I am accustomed to respecting the agreements I make with my colleagues."

Edelstein also confirmed reports that he had verbally dressed down Culture Minister Miri Regev recently during an argument over the matter but denied that he had threatened to hurt Regev politically in the Likud party primaries.

"I told her that I'm sick of her nonsense and if she continues down this path, it would be a serious political mistake," recounted the Knesset Speaker, who added that he did not fear a full-on battle between him and Regev.

"I do not believe there will be anyone among the Likud members who will think that someone like me moved to Gadid before the Gaza disengagement and lived there for a few months, he is less right-wing than someone who was at the time was the spokesperson for the disengagement," Edelstein contended.

Regev had been the IDF Spokesperson during the 2005 Gaza Disengagement and had been a visible advocate for the move expelling 9,000 Jews and demolishing 25 Israeli towns from the region.