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Leaked Lapid campaign document lists photo ops neglected by Netanyahu

Consultants advise PM to visit LGBT center, mental health clinic, kibbutz, and nursery in order to showcase differences between him and opposition leader

Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

A document from the Prime Minister’s Office recommending a set of photo opportunities for Yair Lapid’s election campaign — including locations and populations neglected by former premier Benjamin Netanyahu — was leaked to Hebrew media on Thursday.

The paper included a rundown of places — mainly linked to vulnerable communities in Israeli society — that have been overlooked by Netanyahu since 2006 and suggested them as potential campaign spots for the Yesh Atid party chair in order to increase his visibility and differentiate him from his Likud party rival.

The conspicuously titled document —  “Campaign” — was written by the prime minister’s consultants shortly after Lapid’s visit to Ofer Prison earlier in August, according to a Channel 12 news report Thursday night.

Lapid’s trip to the prison was the first by a sitting premier since Shimon Peres in 1985, amid recent allegations that female soldiers were “pimped out” to be raped and sexually abused by security prisoners at Gilboa Prison.

Israelis are headed to the polls on November 1 for the fifth time since 2019. Surveys show that the country’s two political blocs, the ideologically diverse anti-Netanyahu camp and parties loyal to the opposition leader, are likely to remain deadlocked.

Israeli TV polls are notably unreliable, but nevertheless often steer the decision-making of politicians.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid during an election campaign tour in Hod Hasharon, March 19, 2021, four days before the election. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

According to the leaked document, Netanyahu had not visited an LGBT center since the aftermath of a shooting that killed two people at the Bar Noar center for LGBT youth in Tel Aviv in August 2009.

“There is no mention of another visit by former Prime Minister Netanyahu or another prime minister to a body related to the gay community,” the leaked document reads, then adds as a recommendation: “Visit and talk with teens from the LGBT community at the Tel Aviv Municipal LGBT Community Center.”

Another type of location said to be forsaken by Netanyahu is mental health clinics, where Lapid is advised to pick a staff member and a patient to speak to, but to “choose sparingly.”

It also suggested Lapid visit a kibbutz, a location Netanyahu prefers as a vacation spot rather than as a campaign opportunity, according to the paper. Lastly, Lapid was advised to visit a nursery school, but only “if he can create interesting content there.”

Netanyahu’s Likud party blasted Lapid and said it would submit an emergency petition to the Central Elections Committee, the attorney general and the legal adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Claiming that it made inappropriate use of records kept by the PMO, the party said it would demand the “immediate cessation of the political use of state assets by Lapid for the benefit of the political needs of his party.”

The prime minister’s staff defended the leaked file, stating that Lapid’s team wanted “to do thorough work and visit neglected and forgotten locations.”

“The document paints a bleak picture that there are so many places that were not important enough for a prime minister to go to and that is very unfortunate.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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