Yisrael Beytenu says PM is illegally pushing the mayor of Tiberias as a secularist rival



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Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beyenu party on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of plotting an illegal scheme to encourage the mayor of Tiberias to run as right-wing secular candidate in the upcoming Knesset elections in September to deflect votes from them.

The Likud party denied the allegations and said Ron Cobi was "operating independently".

The impetuous mayor of the northern city, who worked to introduce public transport on Shabbat in the city and committed orthodox ultrahorse about his comments on the reduction of Haredi population in the city, announced earlier this week that he will run for the Knesset.

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Despite being a long-term candidate, its "Secular Law" party platform focuses on religious and state issues, with a nationalist bent, reflecting some of Yisrael Beytenu's positions and stirring up concerns among Liberian lawmakers.

Cobi, who was elected mayor in October, has revealed his candidacy to run for parliament before being defeated in a vote on Tuesday for the third time, paving the way for the Home Office to remove him from the city hall.

Nine of the 15 councilors voted against the budget proposed by Cobi on Tuesday, effectively leaving the post on June 30, when the Interior Ministry will begin intervening and deciding whether to oust Cobi.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer seen during a faction meeting in the Knesset on December 31, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash90)

"It appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is so hysterical in that there is a concern that he is willing to break the law and command a candidate like Cobi," Yisrael Beytenu spokesman MK Oded Forer said in a statement.

He urged Netanyahu to clarify whether he met Cobi and discussed the prospect of his candidacy to undermine Yisrael Beytenu, and suggested that the prime minister promise the Tiberias mayor help in obtaining political donations or a future political appointment as a quid pro quo. "You asked him to & # 39; steal & # 39; the Yisrael Beytenu slogan of the previous elections? secular right? as the name of your party list? "asked Forer.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Cobi know he has no chance of being elected to the Knesset. The most significant question is whether the prime minister has promised him, in exchange for his candidacy, a position after the election? "Forer continued. "Or perhaps he has promised him that he will press the Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to prevent him from exercising his authority and preventing Cobi from being dismissed as mayor?"

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man near a billboard with photos of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas leader Aryeh Deri as part of Shas's election campaign in Safed, March 10, 2019. (David Cohen / Flash90)

Liberman on Tuesday was quoted telling Russian media that Cobi was a "clown who failed to form a coalition of the city, failed to approve a budget, and is now running for the Knesset." This is a group of clowns whose aim is to draw votes of Yisrael Beytenu. "

A Netanyahu spokesman denied the allegations, saying that "Likud and the prime minister are not behind the decisions of Ron Cobi, who is operating independently."

Yisrael Beytenu and Likud have been at odds with religious and ultra-Orthodox issues since last month when parliamentarians voted for the dissolution of the Knesset and go on to an unprecedented second national election a year after Liberman refused to join Netanyahu's coalition for disagreements over Haredi's enlistment in the military.

Yisrael Beytenu President Avigdor Liberman attends a Saturday Culture event in Tel Aviv on March 2, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90)

"Liberman copied everything he's doing now with what we've done in the last six months," Cobi said this month. "The war against the coercion of the Haredi began in Tiberias."

Dubbed "Donald Trump of the North" by the Israeli media for its combative style, Cobi invaded the local office in the fall in a campaign that focused on the growing ultra-Orthodox community and its influence on the city, highlighted in a series of live Facebook videos with a dirty, threatening mouth. He quickly became the bĂȘte noire of the Haredi community after launching free bus lines on Saturdays in the city and expanding the entertainment and commerce allowed to open on the Jewish resting day while promising to restrict housing projects to ultra-Orthodox residents. In March, Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Rights Parties accused Cobi of "anti-Semitism."

Since the launch of his political campaign, Cobi has also repeatedly targeted Haredi Interior Minister Deri, who holds the key to his political future in the northern city and is an ally of Netanyahu.

"Who voted against the budget [on the city council] are the stringed puppets that he [Deri] controls, "he told Army Radio on Wednesday after his defeat." He must be removed from the circle of influence. "

"When you see these worms in the Knesset and the rabid rabbis who are getting involved in the city, you understand that they must be defeated elsewhere," he told Channel 12 on Monday. "There is nothing to do, this country was taken over by the Ministry of Interior, which is controlling the lives of citizens across the country, the periphery and the center."

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