Middle East Monitor / January 11, 2023
An Israeli parliamentarian from the extreme far-right Otzma Yehudit party called on Tuesday for the arrest of opposition leaders and two former MKs, accusing them of “treason against the state,” Israeli media have reported.
In an interview with the Kan public broadcaster, the extremist Zvika Fogel, whose party leader is equally far-right MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, said: “This is crazy. These four should be arrested. These are the most dangerous people right now… These four are now talking about war… If they were calling for protests, I’d give them every right to protest. But they’re talking in terms of me being an enemy. As far as I’m concerned, it’s treason against the state.”
Fogel’s comments were directed at opposition leader Yair Lapid, National Unity party leader Benny Gantz and former MKs Yair Golan and Moshe Ya’alon. All four are critical of the coalition government over its planned overhaul of the judicial system.
According to The Times of Israel, Fogel is slated to become head of the Knesset’s Public Security Committee in several weeks’ time, giving him oversight over the police force, which is under the purview of Ben-Gvir.
“[Prime Minister] Netanyahu, in a democratic country they do not prey on citizens or the justice system,” Lapid tweeted. He added in a separate tweet: “This is how democracy collapses, in one day. Ben-Gvir says they will use anti-fascists against our demonstrators, MK Fogel says Gantz and I should be arrested and thrown in jail for treason and at the university they are trying to run over our students because they are protesting and exercising their right to freedom of expression. We will not let them trample us and our beloved country.”
Gantz said that, “Israel needs broad consensus and not the continuation of incitement.” He went on to call on Netanyahu to “condemn the attack on the demonstrators and the harsh statements and act to unite the divisions in the nation and not to deepen them.”
Ben-Gvir said on Monday that police should begin cracking down on anti-government demonstrators who block roads. He is said to be planning to issue new directives authorizing police to expand the scope for arresting protesters.