Democratic Camp co-chairman Ehud Barak attacked State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman, a recent appointee of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the Likud counterattacked, on Tuesday.
Barak started it on Army Radio, castigating Englman for the resignation of three members of the Comptroller’s Office permits committee who had refused the prime minister’s request for permission to receive donations for his legal defense from wealthy benefactors abroad, and ordered him to return money he had already received. Englman reportedly told them that they had overstepped the committee’s authority.
“I’m very sorry that Blue and White didn’t use their power to fight for Prof. Yifat Biton or reserve General Giora Rom, so one of them will be State Comptroller and not this rag serving Netanyahu like a floor mop.
“Appointments to the permit committee are tainted by conflict of interest. It is a disgrace to the State Comptroller’s Office that such a person is appointed. Democracy is being destroyed before our eyes and so Netanyahu should be sent home,” Barak added.
The Likud came out in defense of Englman, demanding that Barak be investigated for his remarks.
“Barak excoriated in a wild manner the state comptroller, one of the gatekeepers,” the Likud said.
“To where did all those who scream about insulting public servants disappear,” it asked rhetorically, referring to criticism of PM Netanyahu and his party for impugning the motives and methods of the judicial system and legal officials. Netanyahu has repeatedly termed the corruption investigation against him a “witch hunt.”
“Now it is clear that in the eyes of the hypocrites on the left, ‘gatekeeper’ is only those who serve the left. Whoever dares to express an independent opinion — it’s open season.”
Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked also condemned Barak for his “violent attack” on the comptroller.
“I wonder if we’ll hear cries about the death of democracy,” she tweeted, employing a catch-phrase used by left-wing critics of Netanyahu.
Shaked contended that the reaction on the left would been different had such comments been made by Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, who earlier this week denounced a court ruling prohibiting separate seating at a chareidi concert in Afula.