Yisrael Katz
Yisrael Katz Kobi Richter, TPS

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) on Wednesday attacked the center-left Blue and White party, saying that the entire discussion regarding immunity is "baseless and fabricated."

In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Katz said that the decision regarding whether Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will request immunity is "the decision of the Prime Minister himself."

"I think that you cannot negate a person's rights, whether he is the prime minister or not," he explained. "All of the claims that there will be a 'suit of immunity' and the Override Clause will be passed for the issue of immunity for the Prime Minister - it's all baseless claims. No one is going to legislate any law, but the Prime Minister will need to decide whether to begin the process of requesting immunity."

Katz also said that he sees Blue and White "as a pathetic party."

"I gotta tell you the truth," he added. "There are four people there who did something with their lives, including mistakes. And the only thing that they can think of is persecuting Netanyahu. They want to be an alternative, to do their own things and talk about what they're planning. None of the four has a degree in law. Who are they to decide what Binyamin Netanyahu's legal rights are? There's the law, the Attorney General, and the Supreme Court. None of them have banned Netanyahu from running or prevented him from being Prime Minister, and I don't think that'll happen, either. The public is the one who will have to decide."

"I've been with Netanyahu at the Likud conferences, and I haven't seen such outpourings of love and support for many long years. The public doesn't accept [attempts to bring him down]." He added: "[Blue and White leader MK Yair] Lapid said that only 40,000 voted for Netanyahu. That's also a pathetic mistake, because everything depends on the sample. Within the Likud, there is a trend that is greater than the Likud. If a person receives widespread support within the Likud, it already spreads outwards."

"These elections will decide in a very glaring way who will be in power, Netanyahu and the nationalist camp, or [Blue and White Chairman MK Benny] Gantz and his camp together with the Joint Arab List. Netanyahu will hold conferences all over Israel and he will invite the public to ask questions and speak to him. There will be a direct meeting with the nation and that's a way that the Likud can bring back votes."

When asked about a conference held Sunday by Likud's MK Gideon Sa'ar, who tried to oust Netanyahu in party primaries, Katz said: "I came in together with the Prime Minister, due to security arrangements... There are no camps in the Likud, we're all together in our goal to win the elections and everyone is welcome to come and take part and contribute to that goal."

"I believed that Sa'ar's run was a mistake. He turned a legitimate run into something not legitimate with his claims. I said then that the Likud public would respond very clearly at the voting booths. There was a gap of almost 50% between the amount of support [they received] and there was wall-to-wall support for Netanyahu. It was a mistake that was based on mistaken assumptions. I suggest Gideon take a step back."

When asked if he supported Netanyahu for his own sake, Katz said: "No one forced me to support Netanyahu and no one forced Gideon to run. As I said before the primaries, Gideon believed that he would win points, but he won enemies. Everything is in the past, and right now the Likud has chosen a candidate. A candidate was very clearly chosen and he is the one who is leading in the polls for who is most appropriate to be prime minister."

Despite the fact that the gap between Netanyahu and Gantz has narrowed and they are almost equal, Netanyahu "is still leading," Katz noted. "The public does want him."

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