JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being criticized for blasting a veteran television journalist in a statement responding to questions he was asked for an investigative report on his administration.
Ilana Dayan of the Channel 2 newsmagazine “Uvda,” or “Fact,” read the entire screed against her for nearly six minutes at the end of her hour-long broadcast Monday.
The statement, a response to a list of 32 written questions submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office in advance of the report, did not address any of the questions.
“It will be interesting to see if Ilana Dayan, who claims to be a defender of freedom of speech, will bring our full response without censorship,” the statement began. “It is time to peel the mask off the face of Ilana Dayan, who has shown once more that she has no professional integrity.
“Ilana Dayan is one of the leaders of an orchestrated attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intended to topple the right-wing government and bring about the establishment of a left-wing government.”
The report featured interviews with several former employees of the Prime Minister’s Office. Much of it alleged excessive involvement on behalf of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. Most of the allegations were not new.
The Union of Journalists in Israel condemned Netanyahu’s response.
“We are against repeated attempts by the prime minister and those close to him to delegitimize professional journalists by labeling them politically,” the union said in a statement.
It added: “Elected officials are expected to answer the questions they are asked, and not to attack those who are asking them in the name of the public.”
Lawmakers from most political parties, including Netanyahu’s own Likud, criticized the prime minister for his response.