Opposition Seizes on Speech Incident to Criticize Netanyahu

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the opening ceremony of a new medical center in Kiryat Shmona, Tuesday. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came under a torrent of criticism from opposition politicians on Tuesday after an unpleasant exchange with an activist who interrupted a speech he was making at the inauguration of an emergency room in Kiryat Shmona.

Likud activist Orna Peretz broke into the prime minister’s remarks to protest the closure of an emergency room in the area, a chronic complaint by residents of northern Israel that they receive less than their fair share of public services.

Impatient with the interruption, PM Netanyahu brushed her off: “Look, you’re simply uninteresting. You’re boring us. We want to discuss things that interest us. Come back when you have something interesting to say.”

While it pleased others in the crowd, Peretz was incensed: “I vote for you every four years, and if that’s how you treat your public, then shame on you.”

The opposition seized on the incident as another reason to vote against Netanyahu in the next election.

MK Tzipi Livni tweeted: “Netanyahu sees only himself, this is the truth that has come to the light. It’s time he can no longer rely on your votes at the poll,” she wrote.

Zionist Camp MK Amir Peretz commented sarcastically: “They bore him — the citizens. Even those who elect him. How much can you bug him about rubbish such as lines for doctor’s appointments? About reasonably priced housing? About reasonably priced groceries? That bores him. It doesn’t interest him.

“The only interesting thing is what they wrote about him, what they said about him. Who is with him and who is against him,” wrote Peretz.

Subsequently, PM Netanyahu’s office defended him, accusing the woman of “crossing all moral and human lines” by interrupting him when he wanted to speak about his former lawyer Yaakov Weinroth z”l, who passed away on Tuesday morning after a prolonged illness.

“After Peretz had shouted, ‘it’s a sad day,’ the prime minister agreed with her in light of Weinroth’s death. Unfortunately, she continued interrupting him,” read the statement from his office.