Trouble for Netanyahu? Two Top Media Supporters Say Time for a Change

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Whether it will mean problems for Binyamin Netanyahu in the September elections is too soon to tell, but on Monday two of the prime minister’s most ardent defenders in the media took to social media and essentially called for someone to replace Netanyahu. Both Avri Gilad, who hosts a news program on Channel 13, and Shimon Riklin, who frequently appears on Gilad’s program and has one of his own on Channel 20, both said that Israel needed to “break free of its addiction” to Netanyahu as its political leader.

Both hosts are known for their right-wing stances, and have been strong defenders of Netanyahu even as investigations into allegedly corrupt behavior has been going on; both were jubilant after the results of the April election, when it appeared that the prime minister would have no problem assembling a government. But the tone changed on Monday, as both posted messages critical of Netanyahu.

“Like with all addictions, it feels good at first,” Gilad wrote in his post. “You feel as if you found something good and you want it to continue forever. Afterwards it starts to cost you, even if it still feels good; you pay and move on. It’s only after a period of time that the true cost becomes clear.” Israel is “addicted” to Netanyahu as a leader, “and we must stop it,” Gilad wrote. “We will thank him for the good, remember the bad, and suffer withdrawal, perhaps for the rest of our lives. It will be difficult to adjust to a replacement, but adjust we will.”

For Riklin, the breaking point was the report that Netanyahu had offered Shelly Yechimovich of Labor the Justice Ministry job in the last-minute negotiations last week to salvage his coalition. “On the one hand I have been fighting like a lion against the justice system because it is clear that changes are needed. On the other hand Netanyahu offers Yechimovich the Justice portfolio, Avi Gabay the Finance Ministry, etc. It was only the report on Channel 13 that halted this. What do we do now? Is the man [Netanyahu] greater than the idea? Is it time for change?”

Response from many readers of the posts was harsh, with several calling the two “leftists.” The Likud did not respond directly, but issued a statement Monday denying that Yechimovich was offered the Justice job. “At no stage in the negotiations was this offered,” the statement said.