Israel watchdog calls for probe into Likud request for PA election support

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jeruzalem in 2016 (Ben Gershom - Reuters)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 25, 2021

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai on Wednesday to investigate Likud’s request for the Palestinian Authority to tell Arab Israeli citizens to vote for Benjamin Netanyahu in next month’s General Election.

In a letter sent to Mandelblit and Shabtai, reported the Times of Israel, the watchdog asked for Likud MK Fateen Mulla to be investigated. The deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office is suspected “of using public property to coordinate foreign interference in the Knesset elections.”

Mulla’s outreach to the PLO was first reported by Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday when meetings with the PLO’s Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society were confirmed. PA sources said that the meetings with Mulla took place over the preceding few days. According to PA analysts, Netanyahu would be better than another politician who could be more extremist.

Former Likud Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who is now challenging Netanyahu in the election, dismissed the Likud attempt to seek such help during the campaign.

A recent poll covered by Arabs48.com found that 33 per cent of Israelis believe that this measure would weaken the Palestinian Authority. Only 21 per cent said that it would help Likud in the election.

Almost half of the respondents believe that Netanyahu was aware of the contact between Mulla and the PA, while 18 per cent believe that the move was carried out independently. Damagingly for the prime minister, the poll showed that 52 per cent of the respondents believe that he is working for the sake of personal interests, with just 31 per cent believing that he works for Israel’s interests.