Golan moshav asks Netanyahus to scrap repeat vacation plan after previous chaos

August stay at Neve Ativ attracted hundreds of anti-overhaul protesters, leading to disruptions in routine of quiet community; demonstrators vow to return

Israelis protest against the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, in Moshav Neve Ativ, northern Israel, August 8, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Israelis protest against the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, in Moshav Neve Ativ, northern Israel, August 8, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

A moshav in the Golan Heights on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara to stay away after they booked a new vacation at a hotel in the community, due to disruptions caused by their last visit.

The Netanyahus’ stay at the Panda Hotel in Neve Ativ two months ago drew hundreds of protesters against the coalition’s controversial judicial overhaul legislation to the normally quiet community.

After discovering that the couple had booked another stay during the upcoming Sukkot holiday in October, the moshav told its residents it had sent a letter to the Netanyahus asking them “to cancel the planned visit.”

Protest organizers said they were planning fresh rallies in the community and would “pursue [the Netanyahus] everywhere.”

“Neve Dictator 2!” the statement said, in a play on the community’s name. “The tyrannical couple returns to Neve Ativ during Sukkot.”

The community’s administration told residents that “over the next week, a meeting with security officials on the matter will again attempt to reach understandings and agreements (last time security officials did not live up to agreements) in order to balance the needs of both sides, in the hope that lessons will be learned after the High Court ruling last time.”

Workers and police prepare for the arrival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in Moshav Neve Ativ, August 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The community said that during the prime minister’s previous stay, residents became barricaded in by the police’s closure of the community as they attempted to keep protesters away, and suffered “serious harm to residents’ freedom of movement and work.

“It’s important to emphasize that any scenario will disrupt the routine life of the moshav, so we will try to find the balance and reduce consequences. Closing gates and restricting movement will cause enormous damage to freedom of movement and tourism. Opening gates will cause hundreds of protesters to enter the settlements and disrupt routine,” it added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara vacation in the Golan Heights on August 11, 2023. (Benjamin Netanyahu/Twitter)

The High Court of Justice ruled at the time that “there were a few mistakes” in the police’s handling of the protests in August. However, petitions against the police’s conduct were dismissed because protesters were eventually allowed to enter the premises following a two-day standoff.

The protesters are opposed to the government’s highly contentious judicial overhaul program, which would remove many of the High Court of Justice’s checks and balances over the government. The first major piece of legislation in the overhaul was passed in July, barring the court from striking down cabinet or ministerial decisions based on the doctrine of reasonableness.

Anti-overhaul demonstrations have regularly targeted members of the government with protests and heckling outside their homes and throughout the country at public and private events.

Activists have also pursued Netanyahu during his current trip to the US.

Protesters in New York are holding events throughout the week as Netanyahu meets with world leaders and attends the United Nations General Assembly. The main protest event is scheduled for Friday morning at the UN while Netanyahu delivers a speech to the world body.

Luke Tress contributed to this report.

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