Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, will vacation at a hotel in the Golan Heights in the coming days, repeating an August stay despite the opposition of local residents burned by the couple’s previous visit, after it drew protests and road closures.
After finding out that the premier and his wife were planning on visiting once more, the moshav of Neve Ativ informed residents that a request had been sent to the couple, asking them “to cancel the planned visit” to the local Panda Hotel.
The couple appeared to have rebuffed that appeal.
The Netanyahus’ previous stay at the hotel drew hundreds of protesters against the coalition’s controversial judicial overhaul plan to the normally quiet community. This in turn led police to heavily restrict movement in and out of Neve Ativ, to residents’ dismay.
Protest organizers said they were planning fresh rallies in the community and would “pursue [the Netanyahus] everywhere.”
“Neve Dictator 2!” a statement said, in a play on the community’s name. “The tyrannical couple returns to Neve Ativ during Sukkot.”
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 community and disrupt routine,” it added.
Petitioned on the matter during the previous visit, 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 police 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 also pursued Netanyahu during his recent trip to the US.