A-G Says Lapid Broke Election Laws with IDF Photo-Op

By Shmuel Smith

The photo which the AG determined broke the election law: Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with Air Force Commander Tomer Bar at the Nevatim airbase in southern Israel, on September 6, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/PMO)

YERUSHALAYIM – The Likud party scored points against Yesh Atid on Tuesday as the attorney general accepted its complaint that Prime Minister Yair Lapid, violated election laws by posing for photos with IDF soldiers.

While on a visit to an Air Force base in southern Israel last week, Lapid, who is also chairman of Yesh Atid, issued a video warning to Iran while standing in front of an F-35 fighter jet and was photographed talking with IAF commanders. The pictures were sent with a Government Press Office release and posted on his campaign site.

Israeli campaign advertising laws prohibit using uniformed soldiers in campaign materials, and it is illegal to conduct political campaigns on IDF bases.

Yesh Atid maintained that it was not part of the campaign, but part of efforts to inform the public of steps the government was taking to safeguard national security.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara informed the Central Election Committee that she agreed with the complaint filed by Likud and recommended fining Laid’s Yesh Atid party.

In more bad news for Lapid and his center-left bloc, Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party, predicted that his political partner Itamar Ben Gvir will be a senior minister in the next government.

Smotrich merged with Ben Gvir’s extreme right Otzma Yehudit party ahead of the elections, a move that has been condemned by Lapid and his center-left allies.

“According to the polling numbers, as of now, Itamar will certainly be a senior minister,” Smotrich said. “This is the meaning of democracy.”

“We will receive great trust from the public and Itamar has a significant part in that. I hope we will be the third largest party in the State of Israel.”

Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit are part of the right-religious bloc led by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who brokered the deal to get the two to run together in a bid to improve his chances of returning to power.

In a recent interview, Ben Gvir said that Netanyahu has clearly indicated that he would appoint him to a ministerial post, though he did not specify which ministry it might be.

Meanwhile, a poll published Tuesday night showed no significant change in the electoral picture.

Netanyahu’s Likud slipped slightly to 32 seats, while Yesh Atid rose slightly to 24, and Netanyahu’s bloc would still be short of a majority with 60 Knesset seats out of 120, according to findings from the Kan public broadcaster.

According to the poll, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity would be tied for third place with Religious Zionism at 12, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 7, the Joint List 5, Labor 5, Yisrael Beytenu 5, Meretz 5 and Ra’am 4.

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