Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came under extreme fire over the weekend from Israel's left wing, with politicians from numerous parties blasting him for obstructing local and international attempts to promote regional peace, accusing him of bringing the country down through his bad decision-making. Labor leadership candidate Amir Peretz was at the helm of the criticism on Saturday, blaming the premier for sabotaging US President Donald Trump's attempts to rekindle peace negotiations through his insistence to allow the settlement construction in the West Bank to continue. "By announcing the construction of thousands of housing units in the West Bank, Netanyahu and his ministers are acting like a bunch of pyromaniacs who are setting fire to the ground. Netanyahu is sabotaging Trump's efforts to renew the peace process and is reinforcing a reality of one state for two peoples," Peretz charged. While speaking to political activists in Modi'in, Peretz urged that "every additional settlement construction is sensitive and approvals for construction outside the blocs are a setback to the peace process and the separation into two states. It continues to deteriorate things to the point where Azmi Bishara's plan for a bi-national state will be implemented." Peretz urged the prime minister to back out of plans to build more housing units outside the settlement blocs, saying: "Netanyahu should not sabotage the peace process again." Opposition Leader Issac Herzog (Zionist Union) joined Peretz in calling Netanyahu out for jeopardizing Israel's future. "The Netanyahu government's brutalization and their attempts to threaten anyone who expresses an opposing opinion is the biggest disaster for the Israeli democracy," he said. Herzog blamed Netanyahu and his party of slowly eroding Israel's democracy, and pointed an accusatory finger in the direction of Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev. "Miri Regev is looking for a fight day after day, week after week and you can't always hurt the freedom of creation, thought and speech under the guise of changing the world."He accused the government of doing everything in its capacity to damage every democratic principle, saying that the attempt to clamp down on artists' activities and on Israel's diverse cultural scene posed the biggest risk to the State of Israel.
"Israel's strength lies in [the fact that] it is stronger than its entire surroundings and enemies, because we have a healthy democracy here... because everyone can say whatever they want and because writers, artists, poets, actors and playwrights have the freedom of speech and of thought." Avi Gabai, another candidate for chairmanship of the Labor party, echoed Herzog and Peretz's criticism of the premier. "Not moving the embassy is an American statement that Trump isn't working for Netanyahu," he said at a cultural event in central Israel, referring to US President Donald Trump's decision this week to sign a waiver that enables the US Embassy in Israel to remain in Tel Aviv and not to be relocated to Jerusalem, as opposed to the vocally-expressed wishes of many in Israel. "If Israel's government continues to sit idle and doesn't initiate the promotion of the political process it will have to give in to agreements that will be forced on it by external elements," he heeded. "The Zionist ethos was based on initiative and originality. Netanyahu is going against the Zionist ethos and instead of determining history he is chasing after it," Gabai added. Gabai also spoke about the ongoing police investigations into several different allegations of corruption against Netanyahu. "The corruption is visible when the man closest to you represents the manufacturer of the submarines and simultaneously runs an inner-coalition negotiation to replace the defense minister who objected the deal. Morally- Netanyahu should have up and left [his position]. MK Omer Bar Lev, another leading candidate for the leadership of the Labor party, reiterated the accusation against Netanyahu concerning the White House's decision to maintain the US embassy in Tel Aviv for the time being. "In all the world embassies are located in the capital, and only in Israel they aren't. The only one to blame for that is Netanyahu," he said. "Netanyahu for a decade has done nothing about this... and the result is that not only did Trump not move the embassy to Jerusalem, he also insisted that no Israeli representative would accompany him on his visit to the Western Wall." The politicians also spoke out against a recent Supreme Court ruling that dictated that protesters will not be allowed to hold demonstrations outside the home of Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.Protesters have taken to violently demonstrating near Mandelblit's residence in central Israel is recent months, and 20 protesters were recently arrested after they tried to hold their protest right outside Mandelblit's home despite police warnings. Mandleblit has been accused in the recent past of failing to bring forth his knowledge about Netanyahu's involvement is several of the affairs police is now investigating. Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On blasted Netanyahu for saying that demonstrations outside the home of the attorney general were "putsch attempts" against him. "Apparently nothing is sacred when it comes to his [Netanyahu's] survival and his struggle to prevent the justice to be served regarding the corruption affairs he is involved in. For that he is willing to trample the freedom to protest, which is the very lifeblood of democracy." Peretz joined Gal-On in speaking about the demonstrations outside the attorney general's home. "Netanyahu you're confused- Petah Tivka [the city where Attorney General Mandelblit lives] is not North Korea," he said. "What's happening in Petah Tikva is an attempt to prevent legitimate protestation. This attempt exceeds the issue of maintaining the.. right for privacy and hurts democracy." "The protest is not only about the demand to run an investigation against the prime minister," Peretz concluded. "It has become a struggle for the sake of democracy and the right to protest in Israel."
Netanyahu: "I"ll talk security and peace with Trump" (credit: GPO)