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8 Feb, 2019 02:51

Israel’s interim Defense Minister Netanyahu banned from posing with IDF troops ahead of elections

Israel’s interim Defense Minister Netanyahu banned from posing with IDF troops ahead of elections

The Israeli Attorney-General has banned Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling party from delivering political speeches to IDF troops or from publishing photos and videos featuring the PM with Israeli soldiers until after the election.

Canvassing the support of the military three months prior to the polls is forbidden by Israeli election law, so as not to confuse the public that the IDF might be backing a specific candidate. Ahead of the general election on April 9, the Labor Party (HaAvoda) filed a petition with the Israeli Attorney-General accusing Netanyahu of exploiting his post as Acting Defense Minister for campaign purposes.

The opposition party claimed that Netanyahu and his Likud Party’s “cold, cynical and narrow” use of pictures with soldiers on social media as well as in the press “misleads the voting public into thinking that the Israel Defense Force completely identifies with the Likud’s election campaign.”

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit sided with the opposition’s concerns and banned the Prime Minister from using photos of his trips to IDF bases for election purposes 90 days ahead of the vote. He also forbade Netanyahu from delivering political speeches to soldiers. Violations of the bans could only be justified in case of a national emergency, the judge added, noting that the ruling applies to all political opponents.

“It is prohibited to use the IDF in election propaganda, such as utilizing IDF soldiers, publishing their pictures together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense and/or with any candidate on any party list,” Mandelblit said.

Prior to Thursday’s ruling, Likud defended its right to use photos of the IDF with the Prime Minister and Acting Defense Minister, noting that it only publishes “newsworthy and informative” footage. “Still photos documenting moments from the Prime Minister and defense minister’s visits to bases during the course of his work cannot create a misleading impression among Israelis,” the party said.

The Labor Party, meanwhile, claimed victory, once again accusing Netanyahu of turning “IDF soldiers into extras in his campaign.”

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