Netanyahu at memorial ceremony.
Netanyahu at memorial ceremony. Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel's pugilistic press corps and opposition politicians are taking aim at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over what they say was excessive praise for Netanyahu at the memorial ceremony for victims of the Carmel fire Monday.

The praise was delivered by emcee Dan Kaner, and press reports say the text had been approved by Netanyahu's bureau, which also added the sentences glorifying the Prime Minister.

The emcee's text noted, twice, that the memorial monument was built and approved at the Prime Minister's initiative. When Netanyahu was called to speak, the emcee called him "the first person to understand the magnitude" of the Carmel fire, noting that he had turned to 18 countries for their assistance in fighting the blaze, and established Israel's fire-fighting squadron. The narrator also said that Netanyahu "tirelessly cares for the relatives" of the victims.

Some relatives were quoted as saying the excessive praise for Netanyahu at the solemn ceremony caused them unease.

Labor party chairwoman MK Shelly Yechimovich said that it does not matter if Netanyahu personally approved the text, because even if his aides did it without his knowledge, their actions reflect the atmosphere created by Netanyahu in his bureau. She blamed Netanyahu's Ministry of Finance for failing to approve enough funding for Israel's firefighters before the blaze erupted.

Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) attacked the opposition and the press for what he said was excessive coverage given to the subject. He said that Kadima's Tzipi Livni, who was also among those blasting Netanyahu over the emcee's text, sat in a government that nixed the establishment of a firefighting squadron nine years ago.