Netanyahu accused of trying to ‘incite riots like at the Capitol’

You should go to the Justice Ministry and protest, said Netanyahu, chatting to the cafe owner.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Sunday that recent comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are incitement that could lead to an event reminiscent of the January 2021 U.S. Capitol Hill riots.

He added that if such an incident occurred, Netanyahu would “have blood on his hands.”

Netanyahu’s comments came as the Jewish State opened restaurants and cafes for the first time in 6 months. The prime minister and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion shared coffee and cake at Cafe Gan Sipur in the capital to celebrate the loosening of coronavirus restrictions.

While chatting with the cafe’s owner, Netanyahu said that he had been working on passing a grant for business owners battered by the pandemic, but that the measure was being held up by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Gantz.

“We have a plan to incentivize employees to return. The legal advisers and the Gantzes do not let it pass. The Finance Minister is with them (at the Justice Ministry) now,” said Netanyahu.

“If they do not approve it – you show up with all your friends to Salah A-Din [the Justice Ministry’s street].”

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The cafe’s owner replied, “If you say that this is the hold-up, we will be there, no problem.”

Netanyahu’s remarks sparked immediate condemnation from Gantz.

“This is a lie,” Gantz wrote on Twitter. “Just last Thursday, you passed a partial draft of the bill to the Attorney General who is working on it right now, after a month of [you] refusing to pass it.

“Your call for the public to march on the Ministry of Justice is dangerous and bordering on incitement. I urge you to retract your remarks immediately. If Israel experiences a scene like the United States Capitol riots, there will be blood on your hands.”

Avigdor Liberman of the Israel Beiteinu party joined the condemnation, saying “Netanyahu is trying to incite riots like at the Capitol.”

In a press release, the Justice Ministry explained that a draft of the grant program was submitted to their office last week, and that they were still reviewing the proposal.

Because the proposed grants would be distributed so close to election day, some legal advisers have raised questions around the measure’s legality, arguing that it functions as a bribe for voters.

A formal statement by Gantz’s Blue and White party released later in the evening read, “Today Netanyahu crossed another red line in incitement against the justice system and called on his supporters to go up to the Justice Ministry, all on a false and unfounded claim.

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“Only a strong Blue and White will prevent Netanyahu from carrying out his plot to reject justice. The nation must either choose a strong Benny Gantz or live with Netanyahu forever.”