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Netanyahu on criticism of coalition partners: ‘I ultimately decide policy’

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu vows to uphold Israeli democracy and steer the country with “two hands on the wheel.”

Otzma Yehudit Party chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) and Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich at a campaign event in Sderot, Oct. 26, 2022. Photo by Flash90.
Otzma Yehudit Party chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) and Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich at a campaign event in Sderot, Oct. 26, 2022. Photo by Flash90.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu attempted on Sunday to assuage critics of his emerging right-wing government by vowing to uphold Israel’s liberal democracy, pointing to his lengthy track record of guiding the nation and emphasizing that the buck on devising policy stops with him.

“I’m going to safeguard Israeli democracy, I’m going to bring peace…and I’m going to stop Iran. That’s what I’m back for, and that’s what I’m committing to,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC‘s “Meet the Press.”

“I have a record now…and in general of having two hands on the wheel,” said Netanyahu, adding: “I ultimately decide policy.”

The prospective prime minister made clear that he will not tolerate actions that harm Israel’s LGBTQ community, amid a controversy surrounding current Israeli leader Yair Lapid’s recent call on municipalities “not to cooperate with a unit for external programs and promotion of partnerships in the Ministry of Education, as long as it is under the control of MK [Avi] Maoz.”

Netanyahu assigned Maoz, leader of the far-right Noam Party, to head that department on Nov. 27.

The appointment sparked backlash due to Maoz’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.

On Friday, Netanyahu denounced Lapid for “attempting to incite rebellion among army officers and mayors against the elected government under our leadership.

“I call on the opposition to behave responsibly. We have one country, one army and one people. We must not harm them,” Netanyahu said. “I equally reject the false allegations against us. The Israeli government under my leadership will protect the rights of all Israeli citizens and will be careful to act out of mutual guarantees and national responsibility, as we have done in all the governments under my leadership,” he continued.

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