Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally met a rabbi who is reported to have recorded an adviser to Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz calling him a potential “danger” to the people of Israel — a recording that ended up in the hands of the media a day after the two met.
The story made headlines Thursday after the recording of adviser Israel Bachar was aired by Channel 12, with Gantz later firing Bachar while claiming the man was “caught in a planned ambush.”
According to Hebrew media reports, Rabbi Guy Havura recorded Bachar making the comments about Gantz during a private consultation about his personal life.
Likud has said it did not receive the recording prior to its airing.
During Netanyahu’s meeting with Havura, the latter led attendants at a synagogue in a prayer for the prime minister to clinch 61 Knesset seats in next week’s election.
Channel 13 reported that Havura is friendly with Netanyahu’s lawyer, Amit Hadad, with the latter being a student of his.
הרב שהקליט לכאורה את יועצו של גנץ – מקורב לפרקליט נתניהו
גיא חבורה, שעורך הדין עמית חדד הוא אחד מתלמידיו, נשמע אומר בשיחות עם חסידיו כי "גנץ בבחירות הוא סכנה לעם ישראל". ראש הממשלה ביקר בישיבה של הרב לפני כמה ימים, בתיווך חדדhttps://t.co/pumOb3eLJo pic.twitter.com/LBTA5bu4vT
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“Netanyahu has corrupted even the relationship of trust between a man and his rabbi,” Gantz tweeted. “Anything for an edited and cooked recording to hurt me. Netanyahu, your legal anxieties have brought out of you behavior that is low even for you. You’ve lost all inhibitions.”
Gantz further blasted the affair as “mafia” tactics employed by Likud and said people “must wake up to save Israel.”
In the recording, Bachar is first heard conveying the opinion of Blue and White MK Omer Yankelevich.
“She [Yankelevich] says he [Gantz] is stupid and a complete nobody and she says, ‘he can’t be prime minister,’” Bachar said.
When the acquaintance suggests Gantz would work to stop “some people abroad who might try to attack Iran,” Bachar says, “I know that.”
“What do you know?” the acquaintance asks.
“That he [Gantz] doesn’t have the courage to attack Iran,” Bachar says.
“Because that’s [the character of] the man?”
“Because that’s the man,” Bachar agrees, and says the former army chief’s refusal to permit a strike on Iran was “a danger to the people of Israel.”
Gantz on Friday fired Bachar. But he said his aide had been “caught in a planned ambush that included the use of improper means and fraud — which will be addressed through legal means.”
Bachar responded to his firing, saying that he accepted the decision and that Gantz is capable of coping with all challenges that Israel might face.
“As someone who has been with MK Benny Gantz for over a year, I appreciate that I had the opportunity to work with him. Gantz is a worthy leader and has greatly contributed to strengthening the security of the State of Israel as a fighter, commander and chief of staff. He is a leader who has also been able to cope with the challenges facing the State of Israel,” Bachar said.
“Without going into details, the situation published is part of a campaign of fraud that has achieved a new record of humiliation. The time will come for something to be done about it.”
In a statement, the Likud party responded to the termination of Bachar’s employment by saying that he was “fired because he told the truth.”
Channel 12 reported that Bachar has been privately disparaging of Gantz for some time, even as he worked as a top adviser on Blue and White’s campaign.
Netanyahu himself shared the Channel 12 report on social media with the comment that, “Even the people closest to Gantz know that he can’t be prime minister and that he is a danger to Israel’s security.”
On Wednesday, in a televised press statement, Gantz lashed out at Netanyahu for running a campaign of “lies and mud,” and contrasted Netanyahu’s current campaign with his invitation to Gantz in late 2018 to serve as his defense minister.