Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged police on Monday to investigate a Likud party supporter who said prosecutors should be “executed.”
“That’s not our way, that’s not Likud’s way,” said Netanyahu, opposition leader and the head of Likud, adding that he “vehemently condemns these dangerous statements and demands that the police immediately open an investigation.”
He added that the activist isn’t even an active Likud member, and does not have the right to vote in the party’s primaries.
Earlier Monday, an excerpt from a Twitter conversation between Michael Ben-Shushan and another Likud activist had been making the rounds on social media. It opened with the second activist asking Ben-Shushan what he thought was “the most effective thing to do to change what’s going on in the prosecution.”
Ben-Shushan replied, “I have a slightly extremist viewpoint, but it’s quick – conduct a show trial and take the people against whom there’s a lot of evidence, people who have power today and have used their power to corrupt, then paint a nice wall white, line them up in a row and execute them.”
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He added, “Everyone who sees this scene – that they’re being executed for treason to the state and the state’s institutions – they’ll all come to 'sing' about what they did. Build three new jails and then everything will be fine.”
Netanyahu’s response to Ben-Shushan’s remarks is fairly unusual and surprised some of his party’s Knesset members.
“We’re in the primary season, so we’re much more restricted,” one lawmaker said. “Even if we wanted to defend such a statement, it would cost us dearly at this time.”
Party sources said Netanyahu’s condemnation stemmed from Likud’s goal of attracting moderate rightist voters who previously supported New Hope or Yamina. “The timing is significant,” said a source in the party.
This source said that Netanyahu isn’t only thinking about the general election, but also about the upcoming primary for Likud’s Knesset slate. Through statements like Monday’s demand for a police probe, he explained, Netanyahu can signal which candidates he supports.
“Netanyahu is trying to normalize the ticket,” the source said. “In Netanyahu’s eyes, all this talk about former criminals and activists who make extremist remarks only drives away the missing votes of the moderate right.”