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Activists: Likud legislator showed her 'true face'

Regev stands by call to oppose bills targeting rape, violence if it hurts coalition

Lawmaker says blame should be on person who leaked recordings in which she told fellow Likud MKs tactic is fine in bid to topple the government

Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miri Regev said Tuesday that a leaked recording of her saying the opposition should vote against legislation that benefits violence victims and disadvantaged populations does not warrant an apology, adding that her remarks were “taken out of context.”

“I have nothing to apologize for,” Regev said.

In the recordings, the MK had said such tactics were legitimate as part of the opposition’s efforts to bring down the government and deny it any meaningful achievements.

Speaking to the media Tuesday, Regev went on to instead blame the individual who had leaked the recordings.

“The person who should be apologizing is whoever was in the faction meeting and took this grave action of recording it and taking things out of context,” she said.

The right-wing lawmaker was heard making the controversial comments about rape victims, abused women and soldiers in recordings aired on Channel 12 news on Monday, following a closed-door Likud faction meeting. Lawmakers were discussing how party members would vote on a broadly popular coalition bill aimed at covering partial college tuition costs for combat veterans.

The bill, amended at the last minute to raise the coverage from 66 to 75 percent, passed early Tuesday morning, with the change prompting Likud and much of the opposition to stay away from the vote rather than actively oppose it.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a plenum session in the Knesset on May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We decided as a party that we’re going to be a fighting opposition and that we want to bring down this government,” Regev could be heard saying at last week’s meeting.

“So there is no queasiness [when voting against] the disabled, and there is no queasiness with cases of rape, and no queasiness with battered women, and no queasiness with soldiers, because we all understand that this is the rationale.”

Speaking Tuesday, Regev called the recordings “a serious case of intentional leakage of half-truths,” insisting that her remarks were taken out of context.

“At the faction meeting, I said a very clear thing: we have one role — to overthrow this dangerous coalition that is unable to pass even one law without the opposition,” she explained.

“My work for the combat soldiers, the disabled and the weak over the years is well known,” she said. “I said that the role of the opposition is to overthrow the coalition and not allow them to engineer the public’s consciousness against us. We really care about these populations, these are not imaginary stomachaches but real ones. Because we care about them,” Regev said.

“We are supposed to make demands and not fold before the coalition, and the proof is that suddenly at 1 a.m. they found a budget for 75% coverage. If they are unable to pass Zionist laws without us, they have no right to exist,” she added.

Regev’s remarks ahead of the vote not only sparked outrage among coalition lawmakers, who were quick to say that the recording exposed the cruelty of the opposition, but also among activists and aid organizations.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a plenum session in the Knesset on May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, slammed Regev for her comments and demanded that she apologize.

“We do have stomachaches over MK Regev’s comments,” she said. “We wish to mention that sexual violence is not influenced by coalition or opposition considerations, but it does affect Likud voters, who sent Regev to represent them on a daily basis. We call on the Knesset member to remember her job and apologize for her comments.”

Activist Lili Ben-Ami, whose sister Michal Sela was murdered by her husband in 2019, said that political considerations must not eclipse certain issues, adding that “there is no opposition and coalition when it comes to a person’s life.”

“We are all one, to make this world safe. Any proposal that is on the legislative table and seeks to prevent the next murder and reduce violence and pain for the victims must be approved,” she said.

Lili Ben-Ami, whose sister Michal Sela was murdered by her husband in 2019, is seen after a court hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on December 26, 2021. (Flash 90)

Lavi Naor, spokesperson for the Federation of Organizations for People with Disabilities in Israel, said the “true face” of Regev had been revealed by her comments.

“I can only tell you one thing, MK Miri Regev — when it comes to underprivileged populations, there is no doubt that the state must help them and not harm them,” Lavie said.

“Today we saw your true face. You do not differentiate between the citizen who needs help and your wars in the Knesset. In wars there are losers, and today we were shown that the underprivileged do not belong to the people of Israel [in your eyes],” he said.

After Regev made her comments at the meeting, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz was heard chiming in, arguing that backing the bill for combat veterans would lead to further pressure to cooperate with the coalition on other bills.

“Next it’ll be widows, orphans, the periphery, a million and one disabled people, the sick, the elderly and Holocaust survivors, everything,” he said.

Colette Avital, a former Labor MK and Holocaust survivor who heads the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, called the comments by Regev and Steinitz “cynicism embodied.”

Colette Avital attends a local Labor Party meeting in Jerusalem on November 30, 2008 (Olivier Fitoussi /FLASH90)

“The lack of empathy and indifference toward the public by the speakers in the recording is fully revealed,” she said.

“Who are they supposed to represent? It is not clear to me why they came to the Knesset. For what? For the seat, or to represent [us]? So you do not care about widows, Holocaust survivors and discharged soldiers. Their real face was revealed at the end,” Avital said.

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