Netanyahu holds emergency meeting ‘to prevent theft of the elections’

Netanyahu gave a fiery speech on Saturday night against the efforts by the opposition to cancel the will of the electorate through legislation.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a dramatic speech at an emergency meeting on Saturday night called to prevent in his words “the theft of the elections through the theft of public opinion by lies and anti-democratic legislation.”

Netanyahu referred to an initiative revealed on Wednesday that the opposition parties intend to advance legislation in the Knesset to prevent Netanyahu from serving as prime minister. The legislation would outlaw anyone from serving as prime minister who is facing indictment. Netanyahu faces indictment in three corruption cases. The trial is to begin March 17.

“The public several days ago gave us legitimacy with an amazing victory,” Netanyahu said from the city of Petah Tikvah in a speech that was streamed live to 15 Likud branches throughout the country. A crowd of Likud supporters stood behind him as he spoke.

“We received 1,300,000 votes – more than the Likud party received in the history of the state,” he said. “Blue and White under the leadership of Benny Gantz remained in place… They didn’t go up by even one mandate.”

Netanyahu said that the opposition shrunk from 52 mandates to 47 (leaving out the 15 seats of the Arab party).  “I said time and again.. the left-wing bloc and [Avidgor] Liberman [of the Israel Beiteinu party] who joined them will get a maximum of 53 votes,” Netanyahu said, noting they fell far short of his prediction.

“The gap before the elections was three mandates. The gap between the blocs now is 12 mandates. This is an amazing victory by the Likud under my leadership,” Netanyahu said. “An amazing victory for the right-wing bloc.”

“Now Gantz and Liberman seek to cancel the decision of the voter,” he said, “with a cynicism that knows no boundaries.”

Netanyahu rejected their defense that he, too, would do anything to win, giving as an example his rejection of Otzma Yehudit’s offer on the eve of the elections. Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right party, offered to quit the elections and throw his support behind the Likud, something that would have brought the right tens of thousand of more votes, Netanyahu said.

But Netanyahu said he couldn’t agree to Ben-Gvir’s condition – that he, Netanyahu, allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.  Netanyahu said he couldn’t agree to the demand because it would have “set the Middle East alight and brought the anger of billions of Muslims down on us.”

Netanyahu said it put the lie to the claim that he would do anything to win because “I said there’s a limit. There are things I am not prepared to do.”

Otzma’s votes, Netanyahu said, would have brought a still greater victory to the right, giving it at least 59 seats (currently, the right has 58). The additional seat “would have changed the situation entirely,” he said.

“But apparently our rival, they have no limits,” Netanyahu said.

Blue and White leaders “Benny Gantz, [Moshe] Boogie Yaalon, Gabi Askenazi… promised before the elections said they wouldn’t rely in any shape or form on the Arab List because they’re supporters of terror,” he said.

Netanyahu said the problem isn’t that the Arab list are made up of Arabs, it’s because of their positions. Referring to their party platform, he noted that the Arab list “rejects the establishment of Israel as a Jewish State,” that they support the right of return, the return of the Golan Heights, declare IDF soldiers war criminals and want to prevent action against Iran and its proxies.

Netanyahu said the opposition justifies its partnership with the Arab List because one “principle” overrides all others – driving him from power.

“I want to promise you something. I’m not going anywhere,” Netanyahu said, as his supporters burst into applause. “I will remain the leader of the Likud.”

“They throw into the garbage can 2.5 million votes in the so-called name of ‘democracy,'” Netanyahu said, referring to all the votes that went to right-wing parties.