Israel is a democracy that respects its judiciary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday evening, after comments by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) that tractors should be sent to raze the High Court of Justice.
“I reject outright statements against the Supreme Court,” Netanyahu wrote on twitter.
“Israel is a law-abiding democracy that honors courts’ rulings.
That is how it was and that is how it will be.”
In a video interview for Arutz Sheva, Yogev called the court’s decision to demolish the Dreinof buildings in Bet El “charlatanism and unjust,” adding that “the shovel of a D9 [armored] bulldozer should be sent to the High Court.”
“We as a legislature will make sure to restrain the judicial rule, which is the tail wagging the dog, so that the Knesset and government will be in charge and the judiciary will know its place,” Yogev added, saying that the High Court had overstepped its authority on the matter.
When Yogev spoke in the plenum later, opposition MKs walked out rather than listen to his speech. He claimed that his earlier comments were to be taken metaphorically, and that he was not calling for any violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected criticism of the Supreme Court as a result of the decision to allow the demolition of the Homes in Bet El, saying “Israel is a law abiding democratic state that respects the decision of the courts. “That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it will be,” he said.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) called the ruling a nail in the coffin of the court.
Other right-wing MKs also criticized the court’s decision, albeit less colorfully.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), an advocate for judicial reform, said, “A radical left-wing school of thought rules the High Court and most of its judges.
“The political stances of the High Court judges is well reflected in their rulings, which do not mention our right to the land, and the rights of Jews do not exist,” he added, in an interview with Army Radio.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said, “The High Court is alienated from the Israeli public and settlements.”
Regev called for the court to uphold demolition orders against Arabs and Beduin, as well, saying that the courts discriminate in their favor.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) wrote on Twitter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the threat to the High Court.
“Bulldozers, coffins and shouted threats to the High Court from balconies and roofs, and Netanyahu remains silent... Wake up!” Herzog tweeted.
MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) said that “the shovel of a D9 should be used to shut [Yogev’s] mouth.”
A Zionist Union spokesman stated that the party plans to complain to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and called on him to investigate Yogev for incitement.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) also wrote to the state’s top legal adviser, saying “Yogev’s statement is a violation of the law against fomenting public rebellion against the state. MK Yogev is endangering the democratic image of the State of Israel and should be put on trial for it.”
MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) chose to submit a complaint against Yogev to the Knesset’s Ethics Committee, saying that every punishment in the book should be applied to him.
“This was a frightful, unprecedented statement said between the walls of the Knesset,” Hasson stated. “This is an attempt to overthrow [the court] and a call for rebellion against the State of Israel and the most important and sacred institution, the judiciary.
MK Yogev is trying to harm democracy with wild incitement.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid wondered how the Right dares to call itself the “nationalist camp” when some of its members attack soldiers and police officers, and oppose the rule of law and the High Court.
Bayit Yehudi chairman Education Minister Naftali Bennett told Israel Radio that Yogev’s comments “should not have been said.” Bennett said he spoke to Yogev, who understood that the comments were problematic.
Bennett also tweeted that the High Court’s decision is disappointing, but must be honored, adding that violence is forbidden.
Speaking in the plenum, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said she “renounces [Yogev’s] statement.
The Supreme Court is an important institution, even if I do not always agree with its rulings.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said there is no place for statements like the one Yogev made.
“There are people who might understand them as legitimizing violence toward judges or police officers. Whoever does not back court decisions will lead us to anarchy and that cannot go together with loyalty to the country. Everyone must condemn statements like the one MK Motti Yogev made,” Erdan state before the parliament.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) said that he expects ministers and MKs “to unambiguously back the rule of law and not encourage violations of the law and conflict with security forces.”
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