Calls to not cooperate with Noam MK Avi Maoz are just the beginning of the action the opposition will take against the incoming coalition, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid said at a press conference prior to Yesh Atid’s weekly faction meeting on Monday.
Lapid took exception to prime minister-designate MK Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusation of sedition after Lapid sent a letter to all of Israel’s mayors calling on them not to cooperate with Maoz, who as part of his coalition agreements with the Likud will receive control of the public education system’s external educational programs.
"Mr. Netanyahu, if this is what you call sedition, what do you call what you did here over the past three years? What do you call standing on the steps of the court and threatening the court like the lowliest criminals? What do you call sending violent gangs to heckle the children of Knesset members and attack protestors at bridges? What do you call founding a poison machine with foreign money that only incites and spreads lies?" Lapid said.
“I call from here to members of the Likud, there are still some there with national responsibility. I call on them to cancel the agreement with Maoz. You cannot do this to the children of Israel or to their parents. You made a mistake and admit to having made a mistake – so fix it.”
Monday faction meetings at the Knesset
Most of the Knesset's faction leaders held similar press conferences on Monday, as they do every week before their faction meetings.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused Netanyahu of "cutting and pasting" government branches in a way that will cause "governmental chaos." Gantz accused Netanyahu of harming the army's ability to effectively fight terror and maintain law and order, just so that he could escape his trial.
"We will not leave the country; we will cause it to tremble. And when the public sees the outcome of the cutting and pasting, one of two things will happen: either Netanyahu will put on the brakes or arrive at the brink of a void and fall in," Gantz said.
Netanyahu responded to Lapid and Gantz on Facebook, accusing them of "not accepting the election results and spreading false alarms against a government that was chosen by a majority of the public."
Netanyahu hits back at Lapid, Gantz accusations
Netanyahu accused Lapid of spreading three lies, and debunked them. The first was that the defense ministry will be taken apart, to which Netanyahu responded that "the Civil Administration is worth less than a thousandth of a percent of the Defense Ministry – and it will remain in the ministry."
To the second alleged accusation, that the education ministry will be given to Avi Maoz, Netanyahu wrote that "Avi Maoz will deal only with the education ministries' external programs, which are approximately a thousandth of the education budget and will operate under the prime minister. The education ministry will continue to determine the school's curriculum."
Finally, to the accusation that the government will act against people from the LGBT community, Netanyahu wrote that his government "would not harm the rights of the LGBT community and will maintain the status-quo on issues of religion and state.
Gantz responded to Netanyahu's post.
"Here are the lies versus the truth," Gantz wrote.
"1. [IDF] Central Command will lose the Border Police and will need to rely on tens of thousands of reservists – over 70 reserve battalions a year facing the terror in Judea and Samaria.
2. The Civil Administration will become Smotrich's political arm and will act without coordination with the IDF, and will answer independently to the High Court.
3. The rules of engagement will be under political control.
4. The army of the people will become the army of half the people at best, and in the long term there is a real concern for its future."
Gantz continued, “Netanyahu, you won the election. I wish you luck and will support any move that is good for the country. You did not receive the mandate to demolish Israel’s safety for cheap political and legal benefits. Facing the damage of Israel security you will find an iron wall.”
Labor leader and Transportation Minister MK Merav Michaeli said ahead of her party’s faction meeting, “These are not coalition negotiations – this is the liquidation sale of democracy. Netanyahu is selling government ministries to extremists and demanding an override clause to allow him to get out of his trial.
“Friends, this government will not last. It will fall apart faster than you think. These extremist elements will not be able to run the country. We need to gird our loins and fight to minimize their damage as much as possible. Israeli democracy is stronger than Netanyahu,” Michaeli continued.
“Israel was here before him and she will be here after him. Whoever raises their hand to harm democracy, to harm education, to harm the LGBTQ+ community, will get the mother of all protests in the streets, squares and bridges.”
United Torah Judaism’s MK Yisrael Eichler took issue with Lapid and Michaeli’s “incitement and sedition.”
“We warned in the past that these people are not democratic and are not liberal. The hegemony is willing to lead to a civil war and blood spilling in the streets, the minute they lose power. They will not accept the election results,” Eichler said in a statement.
“Whoever hears the tone, their facial expressions and grinding of teeth, needs to prepare for the danger. The police, Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] and defense bodies need to take the dark and violent incitement seriously, which the progressive side has now exposed.
“Plans to secure the institutions of the chosen government should be advanced, and [the security forces should] protect right-wing voters who will be attacked on the streets by incited thugs in the name of ‘liberalism and enlightenment.’”