The New Israel Fund has denied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that it is funding demonstrations against the attorney general.
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In weekly protests throughout the country that have been going on for 33 consecutive weeks, the protestors are demanding that Avichai Mendelblit resign due to what they say is his lenient treatment of several criminal investigations into Netanyahu.
“We didn’t fund the demonstrations. The prime minister is trying to use the delegitimization of the New Israel Fund against the demonstrators who are protesting the attorney general’s handling of the investigations,” said NIF President Talia Sasson. “Incitement and delegitimization are unacceptable and inappropriate.”
Netanyahu “took part in the delegitimization of Yitzhak Rabin and the left,” she added, referring to the assassinated prime minister, “and now in the delegitimization of the New Israel Fund and any group of citizens trying to insist on its right to protest in the streets.”
The demonstrators themselves also denied receiving funding from the NIF, and some protest organizers have filed police complaints accusing Netanyahu of incitement over the claim.
“There’s nothing wrong with the NIF, but this is a lie, and also crude, deliberate incitement,” said attorney Daniel Haklay, who filed the complaint on behalf of the organizers of the demonstrations in Petah Tikva, where Mendelblit lives.
In an interview last Thursday with Channel 20, Netanyahu said the protests against Mendelblit are illegal demonstrations financed by the NIF with the goal of putting pressure on the attorney general. The interview prompted the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting to open an investigation into whether the television channel had violated the terms of its license by broadcasting news.
Protesters at the demonstration in Petah Tikva on Saturday were joined by Meretz lawmakers Zehava Galon and Michal Rozin, as well as newly elected Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay, who said, “party leaders should tell Netanyahu, ‘Enough!’”