Netanyahu's Party Tells World Israel Is Turning Into Iran

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to his wife Sara as he waves to supporters following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's election at his Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel March 3, 2020
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to his wife Sara as he waves to supporters following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's election at his Likud party headquarters in Tel AvCredit: Amir Cohen / Reuters
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party accused on Monday Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid of turning Israel into an authoritarian state over their support for term limits, claiming that the incoming government was poised to introduce anti-democratic measures reminiscent of “laws from Iran.”

In a series of English-language tweets, Likud accused Yamina's Bennett, the presumptive prime minister, and his coalition partner Lapid of “turning Israel into a dark dictatorship with personal laws aimed at Netanyahu akin to the dictates of North Korea or Iran.”

At issue are media reports that Bennett and Lapid are considering pursuing a law preventing someone who served as prime minister in the past eight years from being elected to the next Knesset.

Although Netanyahu has already been elected to the current Knesset, the law would mean that if he brings down a Bennett-Lapid government sometime in the next four years, he will not be eligible to run in the following election.

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“After Bennett deceived his own electorate by transferring votes from right to left only to appoint himself prime minister with 6 mandates [Knesset seats], he is now proposing laws that don't exist in any democracy in the world, with the aim of disqualifying PM Netanyahu from running for Knesset and thus taking down the right-wing leader,” Likud tweeted.

Second Likud tweet

“Bennett crosses every red line in his mad quest for the prime minister's seat at any cost. PM Netanyahu fights Iran while Bennett and Lapid propose laws from Iran.”

While Israeli prime ministers are not bound by term limits, they are a feature of democratic governments around the world. In the United States, the president is limited to two four-year terms while in Argentina, the chief executive is barred from running for a third consecutive term but may run again after four years out of power.

In a statement on Monday, Bennett said that “there is no, there never was, and there will be no agreement about preventing [someone from] running for the Knesset. This was a proposal that was raised, was not agreed upon, and will not be happening. The only thing that will happen and that was agreed is limiting the tenure of a prime minister to eight years or two terms.”

Likud’s English-language tweets were posted as increasing numbers of Yamina lawmakers are being granted enhanced security in the wake of the incitement and threats against them by supporters of the prime minister.

On Sunday, Yamina lawmakers Idit Silman and Nir Orbach were provided with extra security, a week after party leaders Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, as well as Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, had their own security bolstered in the wake of rising incitement.

Last week, Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman also warned that increasingly harsh rhetoric against members of the incoming unity government could lead to someone being physically harmed. 

Netanyahu and his allies have called on their supporters to demonstrate outside the homes of Yamina lawmakers and have exerted pressure on them to recant their support for the new government.

Netanyahu also decried on Sunday what he described as election fraud on an unprecedented scale on Sunday, dubbing the establishment of a government with a slim Knesset majority as an attack on Israeli democracy itself.

Israelis, he claimed, were “witnessing the biggest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of democracy.”

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