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Netanyahu slams 'chauvinist discourse' after MK suggests Regev slept way to top

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.
AP Photo/Oded Balilty, Pool

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned a slew of recent offensive remarks made by lawmakers during Knesset debates only days after a former IDF general suggested that Culture Minister Miri Regev had exchanged sexual favors for advancement in her military career.

“The recent remarks heard in the Knesset are not appropriate and they have no place in the Israeli discourse,” Netanyahu tweeted. “I am in favor of vehement and sometimes even sarcastic arguments as long as they exist with respect and relate to the merits of the subject and not to a person’s body. I am against an insulting or chauvinist discourse that does not respect the Knesset and us as public emissaries,” he continued.

Amid a Knesset debate on Monday Yesh Atid MK and former IDF general Elazar Stern provoked Regev and said, “I don’t want to talk about how you advanced in the army. It’s not worth it [for you]. It’s not worth it,” implying that she had slept her way to her top rank of brigadier general and IDF spokesperson.

Regev, hours later, published a video brandishing a #YouToo banner and slammed Stern’s comments as “indictment against women who advanced in the army and IDF commanders who advanced women in the army.” She called for the lawmakers suspension.

Stern on Wednesday apologized and said he understood that “there were women who were hurt” by his words. However, the apology was not extended to Regev, who he claimed used his words “for another round in the media.

In a separate incident this week, firebrand lawmaker Oren Hazan called handicapped MK Ilan Gilaon “half a human.” Politicians rushed to file complaints with the Knesset Ethics Committee.

Speaker of the House Yuli Edelstein called on members of the Israeli public to register for party primary elections and to vote out such lawmakers. “The message I want to convey to you is this one: democracy is the rule of the people. You, the citizens, choose who will get to sit in the Knesset and represent you and who will remain on the outside,” he said.

“I join the prime minister,” Opposition MK Yair Lapid tweeted, “the divisive and inciting discourse is dangerous and is breaking us apart from the inside.”

“I call on Netanyahu to sign us on to the Discourse Charter and together lead the process for the sake of unity in Israel and the Israeli people,” he continued, referring to a grassroots campaign led by the Darkenu movement to create a document setting out etiquette of public discourse in Israel with a focus on greater transparency and less divisive dialogue.

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