Dudi Amsalem
Dudi AmsalemGili Yaari /Flash 90

MK Dudi Amsalem (Likud) was surprised on Thursday by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's statement criticizing him, which followed Amsalem’s harsh remarks against the judges of the Supreme Court, among other things because Netanyahu had not spoken to him about the issue before.

Kan 11 News correspondent Michael Shemesh reported that Netanyahu’s office tried throughout the day to get in touch with Amsalem in order to explain the reasoning behind Netanyahu’s statement. However, the former communications minister has been ignoring the calls and is refusing to talk to Netanyahu and his people.

Despite Netanyahu’s statement against him, Amsalem is expected to continue his attacks on the Supreme Court, which he says is "a struggle that enjoys widespread support."

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu distanced himself from remarks by Amsalem which were harshly critical of the Supreme Court justices.

"I have now spoken with Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, and I told her that MK David Amsalem's remarks are not acceptable to me, do not reflect my position, and were said without my knowledge," Netanyahu said in a statement.

"In a democracy there is no factor that is immune to criticism, but criticism must be factual, to the body of the matter and not of a person. The cynical attempt by stakeholders to attribute to me the words of MK Amsalem and make this lie a political gain is ridiculous, especially in light of my call for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry to appoint President Hayut to investigate the serious spying case against Israeli citizens," he added.

Prior to Netanyahu’s statement, Hayut sent a letter to Amsalem, in which she responded to his statements Wednesday against her in the Knesset plenum.

"There is nothing farther from the truth than to say of me that I do not tolerate the Amsalems and the Machlufs (two common Sephardic names - ed.)," Hayut wrote. "I wonder where this intense hatred comes from, that brings you to say such harsh things."

Amsalem then fired back, "If you were a decent woman then you would at least suggest to the Judicial Selection Committee that there be seven, eight, nine Sephardic judges, also some haredi, also some Ethiopians."