Meridor blasts Lapid and Bitan Netanyahu, ‘willing to pay any price’

Former Justice Minister Dan Meridor claimed on Monday that he puts prime ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu’s ambitions for power and dominance above all else.

“He is not a racist, but he is willing to harm Israeli society in order to take over the position of prime minister,” Meridor said. Israel times.

The former Likud minister cited Netanyahu’s controversial promises in his coalition agreements, such as a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to customers if it conflicts with their beliefs. Netanyahu later said that he would not support such discrimination.

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“Netanyahu is doing something here that is not consistent with his worldview, but he is willing to pay any price for his goal of becoming prime minister again – and possibly because of his ongoing trial,” Meridor said.

Former Justice Minister Dan Meridor speaks at Reichman University in Herzliya on June 22, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“If it were me, I would not join any coalition with racist politicians. I would go so far as to say that I would prefer to organize new elections rather than form such a government. »

Meridor argued that the current public discourse represented a “deep shift in values ​​in Israeli society,” accusing Netanyahu of normalizing the racist rhetoric and policies of Otzma Yehudite leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

“For many years, politicians who made these kinds of statements were outside the consensus,” Meridor added. “Netanyahu broke that pattern because he wanted their votes and support, and he’s joining now [le député HaTzionout HaDatit, Bezalel] Smotrich, who said that his wife will not share a hospital room with an Arab woman, and Ben Gvir, who talked about the expulsion of Arabs. »

Meridor does not think that all Likud MKs agree with such actions, “but they are silent.”

Likud MK David Bitan during a vote at the Knesset plenary in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK David Bitan also criticized the coalition partners in the future government for their behavior during the coalition talks and their comments in recent days.

“It’s not just that they don’t act like adults, they act like little children,” Bitan said in an interview with Knesset Channel, citing MK Smotrich and Ben Gvir.

Likud’s coalition partners – HaTzionut HaDatit, Otzma Yehudit, Shas and the United Torah Jewish parties – “used the fact that there was no alternative and what actually happened,” Bita added, pointing to the highly controversial demands made during the negotiations.

Bitan, once Netanyahu’s staunchest defender in the media but recently clashed with him, said the Likud leader should take a tough line as head of the new government.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu during the Knesset plenum on December 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Netanyahu must show that he is in leadership. Otherwise, he will suffer throughout his career,” said Bitan.

Bitan claimed that even his Likud MK colleagues agreed with his critics. “They are afraid to speak, especially those who are waiting to get the post of minister,” he said.

“Don’t you think Amir Ohana should have spoken out about the comments about the LGBT community? Of course he should have,” added Bitan, the only openly gay Likud MK, referring to anti-LGBT comments made on Sunday by two HaTzionout HaDatit MKs, Orit Strouk and Simcha Rothman.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, for his part, confirmed that the policy implemented by the members of the future government is “the plundering of democratic values”.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“I wonder who was most afraid yesterday, afraid to live in this country,” he said at the start of a Yesh Atid party meeting in the Knesset.

“Those who heard from Simcha Rotman that members of the LGBTQ community may be banned from some hotels? Arabs learning from Orit Strouk that doctors can refuse to treat them? Activists of women’s organizations who discovered that they were on Avi Maoz’s blacklist. Studied by Reform and Conservative Jews [le député Meir] Will they no longer be able to enter the Western Wall? Or senior prosecutors and police who heard from Yair Netanyahu that they should be tried for treason, punishable by death? »

Lapid was referring in part to a coalition demand put forward by lawmakers from the HaTzionut HaDatit party on Sunday that would allow business owners and even doctors to refuse service if their religious beliefs interfere. Netanyahu had to make it clear twice that he would not allow such a law to pass.

“This is no longer a political struggle. This is a battle for the soul of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, a democratic state, a healthy state.”

“If someone thinks that this will stop with the formation of the government, they are completely wrong.

“This will never stop. “Never – anywhere in the world, at any time in history – have there been religious and nationalist extremists who one day and arbitrarily said, ‘Okay, that’s enough, we stop,'” Lapid added.

“This attack will not stop by itself. They will not suddenly fall in love with democracy. They will not suddenly see the light and conclude that they believe in the liberal values ​​of the Declaration of Independence. [d’Israël] Lapid continued.

“They will not stop. If we do not prevent them, the situation will worsen. »

“We have seen many governments established in Israel. What is happening here is not a normal process,” he added. “What we have seen today is the weakest prime minister and a government of chaos. This is not a “far-right” government. It’s a totally crazy government. »

“We have no intention of sitting idly by while they destroy the state of Israel from within,” Lapid concluded.

Carrie Keller-Lynn and Tal Schneider contributed to this article.

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