Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called on opposition leaders to stop leading Israel into chaos after a tempestuous Knesset committee meeting and a mass demonstration outside the Knesset in Jerusalem.
“I call on the leaders of the opposition: Stop this. Stop deliberately dragging the country into anarchy. Get over yourself. Show responsibility and leadership because you’re doing the exact opposite,” the prime minister said in a video posted to social media.
“Look what happened today in Jerusalem: The opposition is going wild inside the Knesset and its members are jumping on the tables. [Tel Aviv Mayor] Ron Huldai is explicitly inciting bloodshed, and the leftist demonstration is calling the prime minister a ‘traitor,’ ” he said.
Netanyahu concluded: “The majority of Israelis don’t want anarchy. They want a substantive discourse and in the end they want unity.”
He was referring to several opposition members jumping on tables during Monday’s meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which voted to advance the first bill in the judicial reform package. The disruptive legislators had to be forcibly ejected from the chamber.
Outside the Knesset, an estimated 60,000 demonstrators gathered. Some chanted, “Bibi, traitor” (referring to Netanyahu by his nickname). Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party, addressing the crowd, said the “corrupt extremist government wants to destroy the country at record speed.”
Huldai, who marched in the protest, told Channel 13: “Countries become dictatorships through the use of democratic tools…. Countries do not become democratic again, except with bloodshed.”
His words were widely interpreted by coalition members as advocating violence. Even National Unity Party Chairman Benny Gantz, a leader of the opposition, condemned the remarks. Huldai later tweeted that he meant it was the responsibility of the government to prevent bloodshed.