Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday slammed outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid for “inciting” a revolt among army officers and mayors.
His comments came in response to a scathing letter authored by Lapid and sent to Israel’s local municipal leaders in which he urged them not to cooperate with the incoming policies of MK Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBT Noam faction.
“I was elected to lead the State of Israel and I intend to do so in the spirit of the national and democratic principles on which I was raised in my father’s home and which guided me all my life,” Netanyahu wrote.
“I strongly condemn Lapid’s attempts to incite a revolt among army officers and mayors against the elected government under our leadership. Lapid’s behavior is dangerous and harms democracy. The IDF must be left out of any political debate. Certainly senior officers must not be encouraged to rebel against the Israeli government that has received the people’s trust. This is crossing a red line,” he added.
According to Netanyahu, Lapid’s move was unprecedented, and that even when Likud was in the opposition, it “never called for a rebellion against the Israeli government” – not even when the outgoing government “formed a government with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood who oppose a Jewish and democratic state, who deny the rights of women and LGBT people.”
“And we also didn’t do it when the outgoing government trampled on democratic norms in the Knesset and the government. That is why I call on the opposition to behave responsibly. We have one country, one army and one people. We must not harm them,” he said.
“In the same manner, I reject the false claims against us. The Israeli government under my leadership will protect the rights of all Israeli citizens and will be careful to act out of mutual guarantee and national responsibility, as we have done in all the governments under my leadership,” he added.
Lapid lashed out in response, saying: “Mr. Netanyahu, I will not receive lessons in democracy from you. Not from someone who operates a foreign-funded poison machine that engages in slander and defamation of the lowest kind. Not from someone who stood on the steps of the courthouse and incited against the rule of law. Not from someone who just appointed a person who was convicted of supporting terrorism to the position of the Minister of Public Security and a serial criminal to be the Minister of the Interior. Not from someone who broke every single promise he ever made, and even his own partners admit that he is a serial liar.”
“There was not a single moment in the last year and a half that you respected democracy. Not when you ordered the persecution of the children of members of the Knesset, not when you used violent gangs against our people on the bridges and against the witnesses in your trial, not when you sent your people to turn the Knesset into a disgraceful arena of shouting and cursing. This trick in which you call others to behave in a statesmanlike manner while you have lost any connection to statesmanlike behavior makes no impression on me. We are not your suckers and we are not here just to pay taxes and send our children to the army. Certainly not while half of the parties in your coalition do not send their children to the IDF.”
“The fact that you call to ‘leave the IDF out of the political game’ is a bad and shameless joke. You are the one who, in your weakness, appointed [Otzma Yehudit head Itamar] Ben Gvir as minister. You are the one who hastened to make political use of every attack against civilians and soldiers. You are the one who put in his office a deputy minister who opposes women’s service in the army. You are the one who, because of personal interests, sold the values and heritage of the people of the national camp to an extreme group of lawbreakers over whom you lost all control. We will fight in every arena and in every legal way to keep Israel Jewish, democratic and liberal.”
More than 50 local authorities announced on Saturday that they will heed Lapid’s call and refuse to cooperate with Maoz.