Yesh Atid plasters billboard to slam Likud campaign’s ‘incitement’ against press

Yesh Atid plasters billboard to slam Likud campaign’s ‘incitement’ against press

‘You came to incite — we came to change,’ reads new sign, designed to look as if it is glued over Likud hoarding accusing journalists of seeking to sway elections

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

A Yesh Atid election campaign poster at the Glilot junction outside Tel Aviv criticizing 'incitement,' designed to look like it is plastered over a Likud poster attacking journalists, January 25, 2019. (Yesh Atid)
A Yesh Atid election campaign poster at the Glilot junction outside Tel Aviv criticizing 'incitement,' designed to look like it is plastered over a Likud poster attacking journalists, January 25, 2019. (Yesh Atid)

With election campaign materials beginning to pop up all over the country ahead of April’s polls, the Yesh Atid party on Friday morning took aim at Likud’s latest stump, plastering a billboard slamming “incitement” over a hoarding put up by Netanyahu’s party which targeted journalists who have reported on criminal investigations involving the prime minister.

The initial billboard, which was put up at the Glilot Junction on Route 5 not far from Tel Aviv, showed pictures of reporters Amnon Abramovich and Guy Peleg from Hadashot TV news, Channel 13’s Raviv Drucker, and Ben Caspit of the Maariv daily. Above them was written: “They will not decide” — apparently referring to the results of the April 9 elections. An early version made no reference to Likud but the party later admitted it was behind the campaign.

The new billboard, which replaced the Likud’s, reads: “You came to incite – we came to change.”

While the latest poster looks as if it was plastered on top of the old one, which can be seen at the edge of the billboard, a Yesh Atid party spokesperson told The Times of Israel that it was in fact a new design made to look as such and that the advertising space had been purchased legally.

A large campaign poster showing senior TV journalists and the message “They won’t Decide, You will Decide. Only Netanyahu., Likud” on January 21, 2019. (FLASH90)

Yesh Atid said in a statement that it “could not remain indifferent to the incitement being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past months and which has only intensified since elections were called.”

Linked to the photo of the journalists, the Likud slogan, “they will not decide,” was apparently alluding to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s pending decision on whether to charge Netanyahu in the corruption cases. It seemed to claim the featured reporters were trying to illegitimately affect the results of the elections.

A Facebook page called “They will not decide” was also launched this week. A pair of posts included videos with pictures of the reporters Abramovich, Peleg, Drucker and Caspit with accompanying text saying that “if it were up to them” Jerusalem would be divided and the US embassy would be located in the Palestinian Authority’s seat of government in Ramallah.

“Netanyahu is trying to drag the country down into his own personal survival battle but the elections will be about real life. He wants us all to focus on his investigations and his incitement because he knows that if we focus on the rising cost of living and the waiting times in hospitals – he’ll lose,” the Yesh Atid statement added.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who the party said “came to personally oversee the changing of the billboard” said in a message to the prime minister, “Bibi, we and our children have to keep living in this country after you. Stop the incitement, stop!”

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid speaks to the media in the Knesset, on December 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu, who has regularly claimed the media and left-wing politicians are conducting a “witch hunt” against him, on Saturday released a video accusing them of pressuring Mandelblit to indict him “at any cost.”

He then attacked Mandelblit in a Facebook post for what he called a “setup” after the broadcast of a TV profile of the attorney general, saying comments he gave for the piece were “unprecedented” and accusing him of launching probes without hard evidence against the premier.

Amid mounting reports that Mandelblit is leaning toward indicting Netanyahu on charges of bribery — and that the announcement could be made as early as next month — Netanyahu has intensified efforts to portray such a decision as illegitimate.

One of the probes relates to gifts Netanyahu received from billionaire benefactors and the other two cases involve suspected quid pro quos he is alleged to have provided or considered providing in exchange for favorable media coverage.

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