Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is stifling the right to protest,
Meretz MKs said on Sunday, following the weekend’s clashes between police and
social justice demonstrators in Tel Aviv.
“We have become a police state,
in which the government uses the police as a political weapon to silence
criticism,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On charged.
“This is behavior that
suits a banana republic, not a democratic state.”
Though Gal-On condemned
the vandalism by rioters, saying there is “no justification for violence, which
begets more violence,” she said her party would reconsider its partnership with
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai in the city council.
Gal-On spoke at “Meretz
2022,” the party’s ideological conference called in north Tel
Meretz members gathered around 25 tables, each assigned to a
different topic, such as “Social Justice and the Occupation,” “Civil
Disobedience” and “Religious Pluralism.” The conclusions drawn and goals set by
the various discussion groups will contribute to Meretz’s platform and its
vision for the future.
MK Nitzan Horowitz echoed Gal-On’s criticism,
saying that “there is no doubt the government is attempting to decrease the
freedom to protest.”
He added that he was witness to several such
incidents in recent weeks, which went beyond clashes during demonstrations, and
included police interrogation of activists prior to protests.
Also at the
Meretz conference, Gal-On connected rocket fire from Gaza to construction in
“We cannot tolerate the suffering of residents of the South.
Firing rockets is a war crime,” she said.
However, Gal-On claimed there
was quiet in the South until after Netanyahu’s announcement that new homes will
be built in the West Bank.
In addition, according to Gal-On, the reason
for delays in rocket-proofing buildings near the Gaza border is because hundreds
of millions of shekels were diverted to settlement
“Settlements and the occupation have a price, which
residents of the South are paying,” she said.
Gal-On also made a dig at
Netanyahu when speaking out against an attack on Iran, saying that “whoever
cannot put out a fire in the Carmel forest, cannot go to war.”
leader slammed Labor, saying “some parties have decided they don’t need to talk
about settlements, and have separated themselves from matters of war and
“Whoever thinks there can be social justice without ending the
[Israeli-Palestinian] conflict is lying,” Gal-On said.