Netanyahu slammed for using gov’t vaccination slogan in Likud campaign

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party were ordered by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee (CEC), Justice Uzi Vogelman, to explain within three days how the party’s use of the slogan “coming back to life,” also used by the national coronavirus vaccination campaign, is not forbidden election propaganda on Wednesday.

The Achrayut Leumit (National Responsibility) movement argued in a suit filed to the CEC that the slogan cannot be used by the Health Ministry’s coronavirus vaccination campaign and by the Likud. Doing so, the NGO said, implies a close connection between the government vaccine campaign and the Likud.

The movement also called for Likud politicians to be forbidden from visiting vaccination clinics, HMOs and hospitals until after election day and argued that the Likud and Netanyahu are using national resources for their election campaign.

“Netanyahu makes illicit and improper use of a public-national slogan, in order to achieve his political and personal goals. He does this knowingly with the thought that there will be no one to stop the recurring gross offense. Netanyahu has long since lost the distinction between what belongs to the state and what belongs to him and his family, but to the delight of the public in Israel – there is still a functioning and impartial justice system here,” said director-general of the Achrayut Leumit movement, Oshi Elmaliah.

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“I believe that after hearing the position of the respondents in accordance with the decision today of the Honorable Justice Vogelman, Netanyahu and the Likud will be banned from making improper use of the assets of the health system, including the slogan of the Health Ministry, as the Likud’s election slogan. We are witnessing a growing phenomenon of the trampling of every norm by the prime minister and the Likud in order to decide the elections by improper methods,” added Elmaliah.

The movement also intends to request that the attorney-general investigate whether serious offenses have been committed, including concerning party funding laws, due to the alleged existence of illicit ties and collaborations between health system campaigners and Likud campaign leaders and/or the Likud Party and/or advisers on behalf of Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu and the Likud’s use of the national slogan ‘coming back to life’ is illegal and forbidden election propaganda. Netanyahu and his party members are exploiting tangible and intangible assets of the health system in favor of the Likud’s election campaign,” added Elmaliah. “We saw this in Netanyahu’s failed attempt to harness the CEO of Pfizer and the planned visit that was rejected, among other things, in light of our appeal to the CEO of Pfizer that the prime minister was using it for propaganda purposes, and we see this in this case as well.”

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The case is the latest case involving forbidden election propaganda and the Likud Party. Earlier this month, the CEC banned the broadcast of a segment of the Stand-up Nation comedy show featuring Netanyahu after it determined that the episode was forbidden election propaganda.

In the decision, the committee’s chairman, Justice Uzi Vogelman, said although the section in question was designated as entertainment, throughout it “messages are intertwined that are on the political agenda,” and they could influence voters.

In addition, Vogelman said the prime minister’s participation in the program, “close to the election date and in light of the fact that the network knew they could not bring other political candidates due to the schedule, could create the impression that it was election propaganda.”

Lahav Harkov and Arik Bender/Maariv contributed to this report.

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