Lapid says Netanyahu incitement to blame for threats on Supreme Court justices

Opposition leader alleges PM’s method is ‘to threaten, incite, lead to violence and then claim he’s a victim’; Meretz chief: Premier will be responsible if there’s violence

MK Yair Lapid (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Yair Lapid (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Opposition leaders on Monday blamed “incitement” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a series of threats made against Supreme Court justices.

Netanyahu the previous day had condemned recent threats made against justices, while linking them to threats made against his own family, over which he has filed complaints with police.

“Netanyahu is filing all these [police] complaints because this is his method: To threaten, incite, lead to violence and then claim he’s a victim. Always playing the victim and whining,” Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, wrote on Twitter.

He added: “Netanyahu is an illegitimate prime minister who is a criminal defendant. He incites violence.”

As his trial began last month, Netanyahu accused the justice system of engaging in a conspiracy to oust him from office.

Lapid said he would continue work to advance a bill to bar a person under indictment from serving as prime minister, though such legislation seems to have little chance of passing the Knesset.

“I signed onto this bill, I didn’t write it alone. I wrote it together with [Defense Minister] Benny Gantz and [Foreign Minister] Gabi Ashkenazi,” he said.

Lapid ran as part of the Gantz-led Blue and White alliance during the three elections over the past year, but broke with his former partner over Gantz’s decision to join a government headed by Netanyahu.

Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz attends a party conference in Tel Aviv on January 14, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

MK Nitzan Horowitz, head of the left-wing Meretz party, also blamed “incitement” for the threats against the judges.

“These threats are the direct result of the continuing incitement again the Supreme Court in particular and against judges and the judicial system in general,” Horowitz said at a Knesset faction meeting. “The inciters, led by Netanyahu, must know that if God forbid blood is spilled here, they’ll be responsible.”

Horowitz also dismissed Blue and White party leaders’ condemnations of the attacks by Netanyahu and his allies on the legal system as “weak.”

On Monday Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman filed a police complaint after stickers saying “Jewish blood isn’t cheap” were plastered on his mailbox. Anti-migrant activist Sheffi Paz, head of the South Tel Aviv Liberation Front, later admitted she had placed the stickers.

In recent days Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron received two threatening letters, one of which promised “punishment.”

In a recent court case, both Vogelman and Baron were part of a court panel that rejected the demolition of the home of a Palestinian suspect in the killing of yeshiva student Dvir Sorek last year in the West Bank.

Channel 13 said the Lahav 433 special police unit was investigating the case, adding that officers believe the threats against both judges are connected.

“The threatening letter sent to Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron, including its despicable content, is the direct result of continuous unbridled incitement against the justice system and its judges,” a statement from the judiciary said.

A High Court of Justice hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said Sunday: “The continued assault on the justice system is dangerous… There are judges in Jerusalem and they will continue to do their job fearlessly.”

Last month, Channel 13 reported that court officials and police had decided to beef up security for judges presiding over Netanyahu’s criminal trial, which began May 24.

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