The public security services fear the outbreak of “violence and riots” during the granting of confidence to the new Israeli government, which for the first time in 12 years will be devoid of the name of the outgoing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The head of the Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, said that the “violent and highly inciting rhetoric” targeting parliamentarians who support ending Netanyahu’s term may “take a fatal form.”
And the American newspaper The Washington Post said that these statements are “darkly similar” to statements made by the American security services before the Capitol attack, on the sixth of last January.
Argaman warned that “the escalation of criticism directed against Netanyahu’s opponents on the Internet and in public demonstrations” may be interpreted by certain groups or individuals as allowing violent and illegal activities that may even become fatal.”
He called on government officials to rein in groups that have vowed to do “everything they can” to prevent the formation of the new government by a coalition led by centrist politician Yair Lapid.
Fears of a repeat of the Capitol events
On Sunday, the Israeli prime minister said he “condemns any incitement and violence” but also said in a meeting with his Likud party that “incitement against us is also raging” and called on lawmakers to vote against forming a Lapid government.
“Mr. Netanyahu, do not leave the scorched earth behind you,” said the candidate for prime minister, Naftali Bennett, the far-right politician, who is considered by many to be a disciple of Netanyahu. “We, the entire nation, want to remember the good you did in your service to the country.”
And on Monday, the extremist right-wing organizers of the “Day of the Unification of Jerusalem”, which was scheduled for Thursday, announced its cancellation, as security and political authorities warned of its repercussions on the country’s security.
It was scheduled to cross the march Thursday neighborhoods that have witnessed two months of protests in East Jerusalem because of the efforts of a settlement organization to expel Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
A vote on the new government is expected on June 14, in which Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years before handing the job over to Lapid in the Knesset.
The proposed lineup consists of eight ideologically disparate political parties, including leftists, centrists, Netanyahu’s former right-wing allies, and, for the first time in Israel’s history, Arab Islamists.
“As a result of incitement and misinformation, judges and prosecutors, as well as opposition leaders, are now receiving additional protection after Netanyahu’s supporters threatened their lives,” the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported in an article.
The newspaper touched on a previous statement by Netanyahu, following the events of January 6 and the storming of the Capitol in Washington by hundreds of supporters of former US President Donald Trump, who said that he would “quit his position if he lost in the elections.”
Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying at the time that the storming of the Capitol was “disgraceful” and “contrary to the values that Americans and Israelis adhere to.”
But since Lapid’s “Change Coalition” announced last week that it was capable of achieving a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu has launched a “vicious and multifaceted campaign to prevent him from taking power,” said the article’s author, Elon Pinkas.
He also made social media posts including old videos of Bennett and his associates pledging never to allow Lapid to become prime minister, and called on right-wing lawmakers to “oppose this dangerous left-wing government”.
Netanyahu accused Bennett and his associates last week of committing the “scam of the century”, after implying that the new government had made concessions that could be harmful to an Arab Islamic party.
Netanyahu did not condemn protesters outside the homes and offices of Bennett, Lapid, and many others.
The Washington Post reported that the demonstrators issued veiled death threats and “raising banners bearing slogans and pictures reminiscent of those seen in the period prior to the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.”
Rabin was shot dead by an extremist Jewish settler who said that the peace agreements signed by the Israeli “left” government led by Rabin with the Palestinians amounted to “treason.”
Hezi Kalou, the former head of the intelligence branch of the Shin Bet, said the atmosphere reminded him of the days before Rabin’s assassination.
He added, “We do not have to wait for bloodshed, we must do everything in our power to make sure that no one is trying to take the law into their own hands.”
Censored on the right?
On Friday, Facebook and Twitter suspended the account of Yair, Netanyahu’s son, after he called for demonstrations in front of the house of a deputy in the Yamina party.
Netanyahu’s Likud party said social media was exercising “political censorship on the right” and urged the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook to “stop this double standard and allow freedom of expression for all.”
US evangelical leader Mike Evans, a supporter of Netanyahu, wrote in a letter to Bennett: “You are a pathetic and bitter little man so obsessed with killing Netanyahu that you are willing to harm the State of Israel for your worthless cause.” “The Bennett government will lose all support from the American evangelical community,” he said.
On Friday, just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, Netanyahu compared Bennett’s decision to join the alliance with the Torah story in which he appears as “spies – public representatives of the Israelites who have denigrated the Land of Israel and weakened the spirit of the people solely out of concern for their personal interests.”
“In our generation also, in our time, the people elected by right-wing voters should stand up and do the right thing to form a strong and good right-wing government that will protect the Land of Israel,” he wrote on Facebook.
Liraz Margalit, a social psychologist at the International Data Center in Herzliya, wrote in the Israeli daily Maariv that such crises tend to strengthen Netanyahu, as they allow him to position himself as “the responsible adult in the room.”
“The message is very clear,” she wrote, adding that “Netanyahu will not lose without a fight.”
Lapid was given the mandate to try to form a government after Netanyahu failed to do so, despite his Likud party receiving the largest number of votes overall in the March elections.
This was the fourth inconclusive election held in Israel in the past two years.
The new government is seeking support amid unresolved tensions from the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas last month.