Two lawmakers for the Yamina party were granted extra security protection after being targeted by activists aiming to pressure them against backing an emerging coalition deal that would bring in a new government and oust long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Knesset Guard decided Sunday to up the security around MKs Idit Silman and Nir Orbach.
At least four of the seven Yamina lawmakers in the Knesset have now been given additional protection amid threats directed at them over the party joining up with MK Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party to form the so-called “change government.” Party leader Naftali Bennett, the prime minister-designate, and No. 2 Ayelet Shaked had their security beefed up last week.
Supporters of the potential incoming government have faced intense protests and threats over the past week. A Knesset vote on the coalition is slated to be held on June 9 or June 14.
Heavy pressure on a range of lawmakers who have indicated their support for the coalition is expected to continue until then. The unprecedentedly diverse alliance of parties numbers 61 members in the 120-seat Knesset, the narrowest possible majority, and is thus vulnerable to any single defection.
Earlier Sunday, Silman put in a request for her security to be bolstered, saying that she was being followed by activists. According to the Kan public broadcaster, Silman sent a voice message to the Yamina WhatsApp group while driving recently, claiming that she was being trailed.
“I don’t really feel good, there’s a car that’s chasing me on the street,” she told the group. “I’d like to know what you think I can do. They followed me out of the house and are following me everywhere I go.”
A car with a loudspeaker on the roof followed Silman’s vehicle, Channel 12 news reported.
She also pulled her children out of their educational institutions due to the backlash against her. Army Radio additionally said that her children had been “banned” from attending their youth movements.
Meanwhile, Orbach, a Yamina MK who has been seen as a key swing vote on the coalition, has seen protests outside his home in Petah Tikva.
The lawmaker has drawn attention because he has said he may resign from the Knesset rather than back the change government, but his replacement would be a Yamina party member who has already declared full support for the coalition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair was was briefly blocked by social media sites for publicly sharing Orbach’s address ahead of a protest outside his home. Orbach said in response that he would defend the premier’s son’s right to free speech.
The wave of activism has also been directed at members of other parties.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, who is slated to become environment minister in the next government, fled her home last week after threats against her and her baby daughter. Uri Zaki, Zandberg’s partner, blamed Netanyahu for the incitement after the prime minister targeted her in a speech he made last week slamming the new coalition.
Meanwhile, Shin Bet leader Nadav Argaman issued a rare warning Saturday night that the ongoing incitement could lead to political violence.
“This discourse may be interpreted among certain groups or individuals as one that allows violent and illegal activity and could even lead to harm to individuals,” he said.
At the same time, a range of prominent national religious rabbis spoke out against the nascent government, and urged their followers to “do everything” to oppose it. Two of the signatories later denied that the rabbis’ public call could be interpreted as incitement.