Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the nation on a day when police used force to quell protests in Tel Aviv, in which he compares the demonstrators to settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian West Bank town on Sunday night after two Israelis were shot dead there in a terror attack. The settlers burned dozens of homes and vehicles in riots that also saw the death of a Palestinian.
“We won’t accept violence in Huwara and we won’t accept violence in Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu says.
The premier says that, in both situations, demonstrators crossed red lines, which he defined as violence and anarchy, including striking police officers, blocking roads, and threats to politicians.
The statement does not include an anticipated call for compromise and talks, and instead accuses the protesters of fomenting “anarchy.”
“Freedom to protest is not a license to drive the country to anarchy,” Netanyahu says.
Netanyahu attempts to compare the current protests against the judicial overhaul to the protests against the 2005 disengagement plan, which saw Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip and uproot thousands of settlers.
Netanyahu, who was part of the government that voted for disengagement, portrays himself as one of the leaders of the opposition and says, falsely, that those protests were all peaceful.
“They went out and made a strong and determined protest,” Netanyahu says of anti-disengagement activists. “But I’ll say one thing: that struggle didn’t cross red lines.”
Netanyahu glosses over the fact that his own finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, was arrested and held by the Shin Bet for three weeks in 2005, on suspicion of plotting to blow up cars on a busy Tel Aviv highway.
Netanyahu slams the opposition and ignores the fact that National Unity party Benny Gantz called today for immediate dialogue, warning that civil war is imminent.