Attorney general tells PM to stop taking campaign photos with soldiers
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Attorney general tells PM to stop taking campaign photos with soldiers

Statement comes in response to Labor Party petition, which calls the decision a ‘victory’ against Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with soldiers during a visit to the Northern Command base in Safed, December 11, 2018 (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with soldiers during a visit to the Northern Command base in Safed, December 11, 2018 (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued on Thursday a legal opinion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, cannot release photographs of himself meeting IDF soldiers for the duration of the election campaign and on election day, April 9.

Campaign advertising rules forbid using uniformed soldiers in campaign materials and it is illegal to campaign on IDF bases.

The attorney general issued the statement in response to a Labor Party petition filed against Netanyahu.

The attorney general’s opinion applies to all candidates, but affects Netanyahu’s campaign materials most significantly. Netanyahu’s office had been releasing photographs of him visiting IDF units several times a week since the Knesset voted to head to elections in December. The attorney general specified that the decision also applied to social media posts.

Mandelblit’s opinion also said Netanyahu cannot deliver political speeches during IDF base visits.

Mandelblit clarified the restrictions only apply to publicizing the photos. There is no limit on the defense minister conducting base visits, nor do the rules apply in cases of operational need, such as a public announcement in a national-security emergency.

The Labor party declared the statement a win for the party, saying in a statement that Netanyahu had “turned IDF soldiers into extras in his campaign.”

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