Israel’s opposition leader Benny Gantz has launched a blistering attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of stoking “civil war” in the country and vowing to remove him from power.
Former IDF chief of staff Gantz unleashed his fury on the incumbent, who is currently indicted on three corruption charges, after receiving “credible” death threats, which prompted a huge increase in his personal security detail.
Addressing the prime minister directly, Gantz said: “Netanyahu: the public atmosphere and the threats worry every national leader… The incitement is raging everywhere and you are silent.
“I won’t allow you to sow fear. I won’t allow you to turn man against his brother. I won’t allow you to bring about modern Israel’s first civil war in return for a ticket out of your trial. Your regime has trampled all norms.”
It follows a potentially significant intervention from one-time Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman, who leads the right-wing secularist party Yisrael Beitenu, which won seven seats.
Since April Lieberman has been seen as “king-maker” but has refused to join coalitions led by either Netanyahu or Gantz. However this week he finally threw his weight behind Gantz and proposed a new law limiting prime ministers to two terms.
Such a law could potentially command a majority in Parliament and would be a further nail in Netanyahu’s political coffin, alongside a legal judgement due soon, which may rule it unconstitutional for a PM to continue serving under indictment.
Following the latest national vote on Monday 2 March, Netanyahu accused Gantz and Lieberman of trying to “steal the election”. On Sunday, Gantz said a man tried to assault him on Saturday night as he arrived at a speaking event.
He also said he had received online threats from Netanyahu supporters. One called for Gantz to be murdered like slaim premier Yitzhak Rabin. Another portrayed Gantz in an Arab headdress, echoing images that circulated of Rabin before he was killed.