JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that a new Israeli coalition poised to topple him was the result of “the biggest electoral fraud” in democratic history.
He made his accusation sweeping at a time when Israel’s internal security chief publicly warned of the prospect of political violence. Netanyahu focused his allegations on a broken campaign promise from the man ready to replace him as prime minister, nationalist Naftali Bennett.
Bennett had pledged not to associate with leftist, centrist and Arab parties, but announced on Wednesday with opposition leader Yair Lapid that they had formed a governing coalition with factions from all political backgrounds. .
Under a rotation deal, Bennett will first be Prime Minister, followed by Lapid.
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No date has been set for a vote in parliament to approve the new government, which follows inconclusive elections on March 23, but it is widely expected to be sworn in on June 14.
“We are witnessing the biggest electoral fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Netanyahu said in comments to lawmakers in his right-wing Likud party.
“This is why people rightly feel cheated and they respond, they should not be shut down,” he said in the remarks, which were broadcast live and indirectly referred to the campaign pledge. of Bennett not to team up with Lapid and others.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, has been in power since 2009, and his tenure has been clouded by an ongoing corruption trial, in which he has denied any wrongdoing.
The potential new government puts an end to political maneuvering since the elections – Israel’s fourth in two years. People angry with the alliance staged protests outside the homes of opposition politicians, whose security has been tightened after threats on social media.
In a rare public warning, the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency said on Saturday that increasingly extreme online speech could lead to violence.
While condemning the violence and incitement, Netanyahu, 71, repeated his designation of the Lapid-Bennett coalition as a dangerous left-wing alliance.
“This government is endangering Israel with such danger that we have not seen for many years,” he said.
“We, my friends and I in Likud will vehemently oppose the establishment of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender. And if, God forbid, it’s established, we’ll overthrow it very quickly.
Netanyahu said the new politically diverse coalition would not be able to stand up to the United States if Washington reverted to a nuclear deal with Iran or deal forcefully with Hamas militants in Gaza, who have engaged Israel in 11 days of cross-border fighting last month.
He also criticized Facebook and Twitter, saying the two social media platforms, which he uses extensively, have blocked legitimate right-wing critiques of the Lapid-Bennett coalition.
Netanyahu said Facebook deleted a right-wing post that included a lawmaker’s address where a protest was to take place. He said a left-wing post that listed the same address but called on protesters to support lawmakers had not been removed.
“This is a scientific, simply scientific, clinical case that proves an attempt to silence the right,” Netanyahu said.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Facebook spokesperson said:
“The privacy and protection of personal information is important to helping people feel secure on our services.
“Under our global community standards, we do not allow people to post personal or confidential information about others, including people’s addresses and phone numbers, so we remove such content once we are done. have knowledge. “
(Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Steven Scheer; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Frances Kerry)
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