After two days during which charges of overspending of public funds by the Netanyahus dominated the headlines, the focus of the election campaign abruptly shifted on Thursday to issues of defense and security.
Both Likud and Zionist Camp were seeking to divert attention from the alleged scandals — the Likud for obvious reasons, and the Zionist Union for fear that too much scandal-mongering might backfire and generate sympathy for Netanyahu, The Jerusalem Post reported, quoting party sources.
“The press carnival about the comptroller’s report is a smokescreen intended to enable Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog to become prime minister,” Netanyahu charged. “If they are elected, they will go to Ramallah and make concessions that would create a second Hamastan in Yehudah and Shomron.”
Livni retaliated with another swipe at Netanyahu’s image of being tough on security.
“The man who surrendered to Hamas on the military battlefield and to Abbas on the diplomatic battlefield is the last man who can preach to anyone on security. I was there, and I know,” she said.
Her running mate, Herzog, accused Netanyahu of dodging phone calls from Washington during Operation Protective Edge, sending then-justice minister Tzipi Livni to take the calls for him.
Herzog also tried to make the most of the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress. “From day to day it becomes more clear that Bibi’s speech to Congress will just be destructive,” Herzog said.
“Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold power and Netanyahu is busy with election spin in the Congress at our expense,” he said, intimating that the speech is really an election ploy.
However, the cloud of scandal would not dissipate so quickly. On Thursday afternoon, it was announced that former caretaker of the Prime Minister’s Residence, Menny Naftali, will be granted immunity to testify about financial misconduct at the Residence. He was reportedly on his way to the Fraud Investigation Unit 443 headquarters to answer questions as of Thursday afternoon.