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Netanyahu loyalist condemns right-wing threats against rival politicians

Miki Zohar says there’s ‘no place’ for violence against lawmakers; Yamina MK urges rabbis opposing ‘change government’ to warn followers not to cross line

Likud MK Miki Zohar seen at the Knesset, October 21, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Miki Zohar seen at the Knesset, October 21, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miki Zohar on Tuesday said there was “no place” for violence against any politicians, following a wave of reported right-wing threats against lawmakers seeking to form a government that would remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.

“Criticism and political protests — yes. Violence and threats against lawmakers and their families — no way,” tweeted Zohar, a Netanyahu loyalist.

“There is no place for violent discourse and certainly not for threats against elected officials and their families on the right and left, religious and secular,” he added.

Meanwhile, MK Matan Kahana, whose right-wing Yamina party will be co-heading the prospective coalition replacing Netanyahu, urged rabbis who have called on followers to do “everything” they can to prevent the emerging “change government” to make a second plea — clarifying that they must not descend into violence.

MK Matan Kahana speaks during a visit to the Oz Vegaon nature reserve in Gush Etzion, on October 22, 2020 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Kahana told the Kan public broadcaster Tuesday that the demonstrations outside Yamina members’ homes amid the coalition negotiations “are worse” than any of them “could have imagined.”

Some of the most intense heckling has targeted Yamina No. 2 Ayelet Shaked. Her north Tel Aviv home has become a hotspot for right-wing protests over the past week as pro-Netanyahu and national religious activists have sought to pressure her to walk away from the emerging Bennett-Lapid unity government that will need every single party member’s support in order to survive.

On Monday the Knesset Guard reportedly increased security around Shaked due to threats she received. Security around Yamina leader Naftali Bennett was already increased earlier this month in response to threats against his life, the party said at the time.

Earlier Tuesday, Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg took her family out of their home following a string of threats against her and her baby daughter, in the wake of false information published about her proposed legislation to restrict the proselytizing of minors.

The threats followed protests outside Zandberg’s Tel Aviv home and as other politicians set to become ministers have been targeted by right-wing activists.

Zandberg, who has been tapped to be environmental protection minister in the prospective coalition, which has yet to be finalized, came under attack after an article on the right-wing news bulletin 0404 site falsely claimed that her bill called for imprisoning Chabad members who offer children to don tefillin (phylacteries).

Protesters wear tefillin in front of MK Tamar Zandberg’s house, June 1, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While the bill says nothing about tefillin — it seeks to limit intensive efforts to push minors into Orthodoxy without the presence of their parents — right-wing activists have mobilized against Zandberg following the report.

Speaking to the Ynet news site, Zandberg’s partner Uri Zaki said he was “shaken to the core” by the threats made against their daughter.

Pointing the finger at Netanyahu, Zaki charged that the incitement against Zandberg was a result of him targeting her in a Sunday speech slashing the potential new government.

In his own address Monday, Netanyahu attempted to play on the concerns of right-wingers about having the left-wing Labor and Meretz in the emerging coalition, calling the diverse alliance a “left-wing government” that is “a danger to the security of Israel and a danger to the future of the state.”

“If it does occur, heaven forbid, think about who will be in the security cabinet: Yair Lapid, [Meretz head] Nitzan Horowitz, [Labor head] Merav Michaeli, and [Meretz MK] Tamar Zandberg,” he said. “What impact will that have on Israel’s deterrent capability? How will we look to our enemies? What will they say in Iran and Gaza? What will they do in Iran and Gaza? What will they say in the corridors of the administration in Washington?”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zandberg is not expected to be appointed to the security cabinet.

Also Tuesday, the Yisrael Beytenu party, which is part of the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties, said it had received a number of threatening calls in the past few hours. The party said some of the calls included “harsh threats of murder” toward staff at the right-wing secularist party’s headquarters and against its leader, Avigdor Liberman.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz lamented Monday that threats against Yamina party leaders over their intention to join forces with him and others in forming a government have shown that the country has not learned the lessons from the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing extremist.

The emerging coalition has angered right-wing activists as it could put an end to 12 consecutive years of Netanyahu’s rule.

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