Ze’ev Elkin issues a scathing indictment of Netanyahu, in his announcement that he’s leaving Likud and joining Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, which he hopes will grow into the kind of movement Likud was under Menachem Begin.
“For many years, I’ve worked alongside Benjamin Netanyahu… I very much respect him,” says Elkin, touting the prime minister’s achievements, including his contribution to “Israel’s security, world standing and economy.”
“But unfortunately, in the past two years and specifically recently, I increasingly feel that his personal considerations… are becoming more central in the decision-making process, which is critical for the State of Israel and its citizens,” he says.
“As someone who is watching this dangerous process from up close, I see how his personal considerations are getting mixed up with the national considerations, and even triumphing” over the national interest, says Elkin.
“Mr. Prime Minister, I know you well. And I know you are watching this right now,” continues Elkin. He castigates Netanyahu for dragging Israel into its fourth elections. And he recalls what he says were his personal pleas to Netanyahu to avoid the third of Israel’s recent elections, in March.
“You know well the simple truth: You, again for personal reasons, have taken the country to its fourth election in two years… in the midst of a pandemic” while trying to place the blame on others.
“When it happened the third time, I begged you to prevent it… We could have had a unity government last time,” says Elkin, “but you hoped for [parliamentary] immunity from prosecution and [the passage of] the French law [which would have prevented Netanyahu’s corruption trial]…”
Such hopes were unfounded, Elkin says he told Netanyahu at the time.
“That’s when I lost my faith in you.”
As for the current elections, says Elkin, “you know the truth: We’re going to these surreal elections because you want to influence [the appointment of the] state attorney and the attorney general, and because of your hope for a French law [to stop your trial].
“In this situation, I can’t call for Israeli citizens to vote for you and be certain that you will act on their behalf rather than your own.”
Elkin now announces he is resigning from the government and from the Knesset, and leaving Likud.
“Prime minister, you have destroyed the Likud movement… and turned it into a personality cult” where critics are scared to speak.
He says Netanyahu will dispatch his ministers to attack him in TV studios when this is over, but that they privately say exactly what he has just now said publicly. “They are afraid of you, of the atmosphere you’ve created. You’ve crushed the party’s democracy.”
He says high-ranking Likud members have no influence, since Netanyahu does not reward those who score high in Likud primaries, and that he has “destroyed the [Likud] movement’s democracy.”
He now accuses Netanyahu of breaking his promises — to friends, allies, activists and citizens.
“When you need to, you have no problem making promises with no intention of keeping them,” he says.
Elkin says Netanyahu is now counting on Naftali Bennett “forgetting all the times you’ve tricked him and like a battered woman, rush back into your arms after elections and save you from your trial.”
Elkin says he can’t tell Israelis to “support someone that I’ve stopped believing in” and place their fate in his hands.
He says he hopes Netanyahu wins in his corruption trial, “but the time has come for new leadership, different leadership.”