Yair Netanyahu put on leave from NGO job a day after deriding Rivlin

Shurat Hadin reportedly concerned about series of controversial comments and close ties to Likud campaign, but sources close to PM’s son say he asked for time off ahead of election

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Flash90)

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was put on leave from his job at an Israeli NGO for the duration of the election campaign, Channel 12 said Tuesday.

The young Netanyahu worked as a social media coordinator for Shurat HaDin — the Israel Law Center, an NGO that offers legal representation and advocacy for terror victims.

Shurat Hadin is reportedly concerned over Netanyahu’s public involvement in the Likud party’s election campaign, including his publicly mocking and deriding figures such as President Reuven Rivlin.

The report said sources close to Yair Netanyahu insisted on a different version of events, claiming it was he, and not Shurat Hadin, that requested the leave so he could better focus on the campaign.

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The report came a day after the young Netanyahu sniped at Rivlin on Twitter after the latter criticized his father over recent statements about Arab Israelis.

In a speech at a Jerusalem conference earlier Monday, Rivlin condemned the “entirely unacceptable remarks about the Arab citizens of Israel” made by some politicians. He did not mention any names, but he was likely referring to right-wing parties, including Netanyahu and his Likud, that have repeatedly accused their centrist rivals Blue and White of planning to rely on Arab parties in their future governing coalition.

As part of that debate, Netanyahu said that Israel “is not a state of all its citizens” but the nation-state of the Jewish people only.

“Those who believe that the State of Israel must be Jewish and democratic in the full sense of the word must remember that the State of Israel has complete equality of rights for all its citizens,” Rivlin said. “There are no, and there will be no, second-class citizens, and there are no second-class voters.”

Yair Netanyahu responded by invoking a phrase uttered by the president in 2015 that angered many on the right.

Speaking after a case of suspected Jewish terror, in which several members of a Palestinian family were killed in a firebomb attack on their home, Rivlin said then: “From my people, there are those who have chosen the path of terrorism, and have lost their humanity.”

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at a town hall meeting in Beersheba, on March 11, 2019. (Saria Diamant/Blue and White)

In his Monday tweet, Yair Netanyahu suggested Rivlin’s criticism could be ignored because the 2015 comments showed a predilection to unfairly criticizing Jews.

“Why are you surprised [at the anti-Arab rhetoric]?” Netanyahu asked. “It’s all because members of your people have chosen the path of terrorism.”

The Blue and White party then released a statement taking aim at the prime minister over his son’s mocking of the president.

“Throughout the election campaign we have been careful to be respectful toward the Netanyahu family, but now we are calling on Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu: Control the mouth and keyboard of your son Yair,” a statement from party leader Benny Gantz said.

“Your incitement toward our president crosses every possible line. Israel comes before anything else, the Netanyahu family doesn’t.”

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