Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Culture Minister Miri Regev are at odds over whether the prime minister should speak at 70th Independence Day festivities.
Regev has released a statement slamming Edelstein after he hinted that she gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “bad advice” in suggesting that the premier speaks at the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony.
The Knesset speaker is traditionally the highest-ranking official at the ceremony on Mount Herzl and therefore, gives the address.
“It’s beyond my understanding,” she said. “Why does it bother the Knesset speaker that at the celebration of 70 years to the state the president and prime minister speak?”
“I don’t remember Edelstein buying Mount Herzl or attaining the rights to the official torch-lighting ceremony,” Regev quipped.
In November, the Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols, led by Regev, decided to have Netanyahu give a speech at the annual Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony this year. Knesset representatives reported back to Edelstein’s office that he may lose that role, and sources close to the speaker made it known that he was not pleased with the development.
Netanyahu decided against giving the speech soon after, with his office citing the high security needed for the prime minister to participate, which would make it harder for bereaved families to visit their loved ones’ graves on Remembrance Day, in the hours preceding the ceremony.
Asked at a Yediot Aharonot conference on Sunday whether he and Netanyahu argued over the matter, Edelstein said: “You can say a lot of things about the prime minister, but he is not stupid.
“Someone gave him bad advice and offered him to speak at the torch-lighting ceremony,” the Knesset speaker stated.
Edelstein did not mention Regev by name, adding: “The prime minister understood quickly, and I clarified the significance for him. The idea, I hope, has been buried once and for all.”
A source in Edelstein’s office said that the matter has not soured the Knesset speaker’s close relationship with Netanyahu, and did not come up again in a conversation between them after the idea was first dropped.