The Israeli opposition has accused Russia of planning to interfere in the upcoming Israeli election to guarantee the election of incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a report by the Jerusalem Post.
“We demand security forces make sure Putin is not stealing the election for his friend, Bibi the dictator,” declared Tamar Zandberg, leader of Meretz, a left-wing opposition party.
Putin’s spokesman was quick to respond to the unfounded allegation.
“Russia has never interfered in elections in any country and has no plans to do it in the future,” stated press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
The statement comes after the director of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, Nadav Argaman, claimed that a foreign country was planning to intervene in the April elections.
“I can’t say at this point for whom or against whom but it involves cyber[attacks] and hacking,” he said. “100% [sure] that [redacted country] will intervene in the upcoming elections, and I know what I’m talking about, I just don’t know in whose favor.”
Under Netanyahu, the leader of the ruling Likud party, Israel’s relations with Russia improved substantially, particularly during Israel’s rift with the United States during the Obama administration. Although he is currently under investigation, he remains popular with the Israeli population, and is expected to win the election by a large margin, despite a strong challenge from former IDF head Benny Gantz and his centrist Israel Resilience party. Netanyahu has been falsely accused by his Soros-backed opponents of shifting Israel in the direction of an illiberal state.
Russia’s main political ally on the Israeli right is Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who maintained a strictly neutral position on the Russian annexation of Crimea during his tenure as Foreign Minister between 2009 and 2015. However, his party is notably weaker in the polls, and risks not receiving a high enough percentage of the vote to win any seats in the election. Russia also maintains warm ties with Israel’s left-wing Arab parties, although they are unlikely to play a role in a future Israeli coalition government.