Coalition whip Miki Zohar of Likud, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday compared pro-Trump extremists who stormed the US Capitol building in a deadly melee to Israelis who have been protesting outside the premier’s official residence in Jerusalem.
His remarks came as President Reuven Rivlin urged the Israeli people to not fall victim to the types of divisions that led to the attack on the US Capitol Building Wednesday.
“A question that’s bothering me: Which is worse and [more] harmful to democracy — an onslaught of violence by Americans on the Capitol building in Washington, or an onslaught of violence by Israeli citizens on the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem?” Zohar tweeted.
Crime Minister, one of the main Israeli protest groups, responded in a statement that Zohar is “a senior soldier in Netanyahu’s crime organization who doesn’t stop inciting and lying.”
“The protesters never tried to break into the residence, but it seems that the obsessive preoccupation of the Balfour propaganda machine with demonstrations has spawned a new record of hallucination and fake news,” the group said, referring to Balfour Street, the location of the residence.
Zohar indicated that his comments are directed against the media and Likud’s political rivals, saying they should “try to be objective from time to time.”
Netanyahu earlier said of the events in Washington that the “rampage… was a disgraceful act that must be vigorously condemned.”
In the past, the prime minister and his supporters have referred to those participating in protests against him outside his official residence as “anarchists.”
Urging unity, Rivlin said in a video statement, “We must ensure that even if the gaps are deeps, our democracy will protect us as a people, as society and a state,” he said.
“The pictures of the disturbances from Capitol Hill are shocking. They remind us all that democracy, even when it is strong and deeply rooted, is not to be taken for granted,” said Rivlin, who congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden on the certification of his victory by Congress.
Protesters have gathered outside the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence for months and while there have been minor scuffles with police, the demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful with no efforts to break into the residence or any other government building. The protesters want Netanyahu to step down over his ongoing corruption trial and the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
In Washington, a violent mob loyal to US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, forcing lawmakers into hiding, and ransacking offices in an unprecedented assault on US democracy.
Four people died as police attempted to secure the US seat of power, in what Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a “failed insurrection.”