Israeli paper claims ‘paranoid’ Netanyahu feared US super-software was rigging votes on election day
According to the paper, Netanyahu spoke with “a senior Israeli journalist” on Election Day, March 17, 2015.
“I want to tell you that what’s happening today is election stealing,” the PM reportedly told the journalist on the phone.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in any democracy anywhere. Because you’re in the press, you didn’t report on this scandal here. I’m about to lose the election,” he added.
The reporter allegedly tried to assure Netanyahu that he was going to remain prime minister after the election, but Netanyahu replied: “I’m not.”
“The V15 movement [opposition group], backed by the American administration, brought software programs here… You know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to elaborate over the phone, OK? Super-software that locates voters,” he said, according to Haaretz.
“I want you to know that this is what happened,” the PM added.
Before hanging up, Netanyahu blasted the journalist and the whole Israeli media for turning its back on him.
“You won’t touch it. You aren’t handling [the story.] That's why I'm going to lose the election,” the PM reportedly claimed.
Haaretz noted that the reporter sensed “paranoia” in the Israeli leader’s words about a Washington-led conspiracy against him.
Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with Obama’s administration, with Israel strongly opposing the US push for a Palestinian state and the lifting of sanctions on geopolitical rival Iran after the signing of a nuclear deal.
However, Netanyahu’s Likud party won the election, taking 30 seats in the Knesset, and later formed a coalition government, with Netanyahu remaining PM.
Netanyahu reportedly saw the success as his personal victory against the media, a senior Likud party member told Haaretz.
“You have to understand, the man was bracing for a loss. After the election, he got it into his head that he had won on his own, that he had vanquished, Arnon Mozes [publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, which strongly opposed Netanyahu], and the entire media establishment,” Mozes said.
After the vote, Netanyahu was trying to “change the balance, to gain control of the [media] business,” the source said, adding that he thinks PM believes that he “already handled” the print media with the founding of the Israel Hayom free daily newspaper back in 2007.
"Now he’s set his sights on commercial television in Israel… The barrier of his fear of the media, which accompanied him for years, has been broken,” the Likud politician said.
In response to accusations by Haaretz, Netanyahu’s office said that the paper was “biased and prejudiced” against the PM, blaming it for distorting reality.
“For years Haaretz has been the newspaper besmirching the IDF and Israel to the world, and which does not represent even a tiny fraction of the range of opinions held by the broad Israeli public,” it said.