Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the Haifa navy base on Tuesday, where he was briefed on operations by Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit — and was not photographed for publication with officers or servicemen.
This was in compliance with the recent ruling by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who said that while public officials running for office may visit military bases, photo-ops with soldiers would be a violation of the elections law.
A photo released by the Prime Minister’s Office showed Netanyahu alone, with only ships in the background.
The prime minister made mention of the matter shortly before the Haifa visit, saying that he found Mandelblit’s ruling “amusing.” The two have been at odds in recent weeks over Mandleblit’s handling of the investigations against him, in particular the decision to announce whether there will be an indictment before the April 9 elections.
In a video posted online, Netanyahu said: “I would’ve really liked to take you inside, but they have some weird instruction — no taking photos with soldiers,” he said. “I was also a soldier, so can I not be photographed as well?”
Addressing the soldiers, Netanyahu added: “When I meet you I do intend to take photos with you and I will want to publish them after the elections — because I have more than two million followers worldwide and I want you to be seen because you beautifully represent the IDF and the State of Israel.”
In a statement, Netanyahu said: “In the context of my IDF visits as Defense Minister, I am very impressed by the navy’s aggressiveness, in building the force and using it. The navy is a primary component in Israel’s defensive and deterrent capabilities regarding the supreme missions that we have in both of these areas.
“I am impressed by everything I have seen here. Of course, it is impossible to show everything but the missiles that you see behind me can go very far, against any enemy, including Iran’s proxies in our region.”