Meretz Leader Accuses Netanyahu of Exploiting Fires

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meretz leader MK Zehava Gal-On has accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately inciting terrorist arson last week in order to divert public attention from the investigation of a conflict of interest in the purchase of German submarines, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday night.

“There was a deliberate maneuver by the prime minister to distract the public from the submarine affair,” Gal-On said. “The way he called the attacks arson and terror at such an early stage only led to more incidents of arson, which served him.”

Gal-On said she agreed with Peace Now co-founder Amiram Goldblum, who wrote that “Netanyahu’s incitement intifada is raging across the country,” and “It’s difficult not to see the connection between Netanyahu’s incitement following the arsons and the submarines scandal.”

There was no direct response from Netanyahu, but coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) dismissed the accusation, saying that “the extreme Left lost its mind a long time ago.”

Even some fellow leftists shrank from Gal-On’s attack. Peace Now director-general Avi Buskila characterized it as “a harsh, baseless accusation.”

Zionist Camp faction head Merav Michaeli also said that Gal-On went too far. “I won’t counter incitement with incitement by saying what she said,” Michaeli responded. “We don’t incite against Netanyahu, but we legitimately criticize him. He often incites to distract the public but I won’t say he caused more people to start fires.”