The head of the Central Elections Committee on Thursday said the Likud party had ignored his order to refrain from putting up election propaganda material inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.
An election poster was seen behind Netanyahu on Wednesday as he delivered an address in which he attacked his main challenger in the election, Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz.
Supreme Court Justice and head of the elections committee Hanan Melcer said that his order from Wednesday had “not been respected” and the Likud party had until Sunday noon to explain the “diversion from the decision.”
Melcer also warned against putting up campaign banners later Thursday at Netanyahu’s scheduled press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Melcer had barred the election banners on Wednesday while hearing a petition from the Blue and White party, which sought to ban Netanyahu from holding the Pompeo press conference at his residence.
Melcer rejected that petition, but said that “it is forbidden to host election propaganda at the official residence or hang up propaganda signs.” He also warned news media against broadcasting anything from the residence that was not strictly news.
Likud denied ignoring Melcer’s order.
“The press conference that the decision referred to was not at the Prime Minister’s Residence, as was presented in bad faith to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee. We’ll clarify this in the letter that we’ll present to him as soon as possible,” the party was quoted saying by Hebrew media.
In recent weeks, Melcer has forced Netanyahu and Gantz to broadcast press conferences on a 10-minute delay to ensure that television stations would only broadcast news elements and not propaganda.
Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu and Pompeo visited the Western Wall, the first time that Washington’s top diplomat visited Jerusalem’s contested Old City accompanied by a senior Israeli official.