Netanyahu: In a democracy there will be no call to civil riots

Maariv reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to President Herzog on Tuesday. He said, “In a democracy, the leaders of opposition aren’t arrested, just like the government ministers weren’t called Nazis and the Jewish government wasn’t called The Third Reich, and the citizens aren’t called to start civil rebellion.”

This call was made after the President appealed to citizens and politicians to calm down the nation’s public discourse, which was published in a Twitter statement on Tuesday.

The statement of President Herzog read, “The Declaration of Independence values are the compass of my country – I won’t let anyone harm them.” This is an explosive and sensitive time for the Israeli public. I’m aware of both sides’ voices, all their pain, worries, and anxieties. This is something I cannot ignore and it is always on my mind.

“Over the past days, I have been talking and acting with many parties. I am trying to establish a respectful dialogue in the hope of achieving a wide understanding. I appeal to elected officials and citizens from Israel, across all political spectrums, to show restraint. We need to calm the spirits and put out the fires.

President Herzog concluded, “We have no other nation.”

Yair Lapid, the leader of the Opposition, tweeted his reaction to Netanyahu’s comments. “Netanyahu in a democracy they don’t run over citizens or destroy the justice system.” You are now a weak prime Minister who is afraid of his extremist allies. They won’t listen and are leading Israel to its collapse.

Heated public discourse

Herzog’s statement was published the same day that a man was taken into custody in Beersheba for allegedly trying to run over protestors against the planned judicial reform. Walla News was told by one of the protesters that the driver shouted, “anarchists you ruined the State!”

In the past few days, politicians from the government and the opposition have traded angry accusations. Itamar Bengvir, the National Security Minister, announced on Sunday that he would direct police officers to confront left-wing protestors who block roads and disrupt the peace.

Former MK and deputy IDF chief-of-staff Yair Golan demanded Tuesday for “widespread” civil unrest in protest of the Netanyahu government’s actions against the judiciary. “No more polite demonstrations at Motzash on Saturday night… Only actions. Only results… Those who pretend they are ruling through corrupt, hedonistic and extremist people will find that the people are the sovereign.

Likud MK Ariel Kallner, Likud MK, filed a complaint against him for sedition. Otzma Yuhudit MK Zvika fogel stated that he believes Yair Yaalon, Benny Gantz and Yair Golan “should be arrested for treason.” He said that “they [the Opposition leaders] were the most dangerous people in the world at the moment.” It’s not the demonstrations, it’s not [the Palestinian] flags or anything else.”

MK Zeev Elkin replied to Fogel’s statements by saying: “Zvika [Fogel],” I grew up where it was illegal to speak against the government. They used to jail people who had the wrong views. A place where politicians instructed the police which people to arrest. You don’t want there to be. Perhaps it’s time to calm down. !”

Opposition leader Yair Lepid reacted with a tweet saying that it was obvious that this would happen. Opposition leaders are always threatened by the government in undemocratic countries.

This is how a democracy crumbles in a matter of hours. Ben-Gvir claims he will use watercannons to attack our demonstrators. MK Fogel states that Benny Gantz as well as I should be taken into custody and put in jail for treason. In Beersheba they attempted to run over students who were protesting the government and exercising their freedom of speech. Lapid made a separate statement.

Itamar Bengvir, Minister of National Security, spoke to members of his party Tuesday and asked them not to make divisive remarks.

“Don’t follow the lead of ‘arrest Lapid or Gantz. We’ll handcuff them. What’s the matter? What’s the best place to get this information? It won’t happen, you know that. I get it. They are rebelling and inciting against us constantly! We don’t arrest political opposition, the police won’t arrest them… I ask you, don’t speak about handcuffs and arrests, no political dissident will be arrested!”

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz called on PM Netanyahu via Twitter Tuesday: “Netanyahu. The state of Israel requires broad agreements and no continuation of incitement and divisionalism.” Your actions that are against individual rights and basic democratic principles are being translated into actual acts on the ground. I urge you to condemn the attack against the demonstrators, the harsh statements, and to work to unify divisions within the nation and not to increase them.

“I appeal to everyone who believes in Israeli democracy to continue fighting for it in every legal and democratic way.” He concluded that we will achieve this goal without violence or incitement but with courage!”

On Tuesday night, Defense Minister Yoav Galat called for “all sides right to left to calm down.” We are entering dangerous territory and words have meaning.

Galant tweeted, “Even during time periods of deep disagreeance, the role of public officials is to preserve unity of the nation.”

It was not clear if Galant’s moderate message was aligned with PM Netanyahu, who allowed several lieutenants to heat the discourse. Or if Galant was making his first independent, potentially risky act in defense minister in trying to give equal validity between the left and right in ongoing debates about the judiciary and other issues.