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Israel’s Netanyahu refutes ‘incitement’ and asserts election fraud

Stuck in a court battle on corruption charges, Netanyahu faces being toppled by a coalition of legislators.

3 mins read

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has precluded allegations of incitement and held that the newly-formed Israeli coalition that is composed to overthrow him resulted from “the greatest election fraud” in the antiquity of democracy.

In authority for 12 consecutive years, Netanyahu faces being unseated by a diverse coalition of eight parties combined only by one factor of shared hostility towards him.

“We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Netanyahu said in comments to legislators from his right-wing Likud party. Netanyahu has mobilized his supporters to peel off defectors ahead of a confirmation vote.

On Saturday, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, Nadav Argaman, issued a rare public statement warning of a “severe escalation in violent and inciting discourse” on social media. “Certain groups or individuals could understand this discourse as enabling illegal violence that could even cost a life,” Argaman said, calling on public officials to “issue a clear call to stop this discourse”.

A spokesperson for Shin Bet would not tell a news agency whether Argaman was referring to a particular group or person being threatened, merely saying: “This is a general atmosphere that must stop.”

However, politicians opposing Netanyahu and some local media outlets have interpreted Argaman’s statement as a warning to the Premier. “There is a very fragile line between political criticism and inciting violence,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Netanyahu claimed he was the target of an “even more serious” campaign and again called the coalition that seeks to replace him a “dangerous left-wing government”.

Under the coalition agreement, Naftali Bennett of the far-right Yamina party would be Premier for two years, replaced by the centrist Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party in 2023. Netanyahu’s supporters have been working hard to win defections from Yamina deputies uncomfortable due to working with Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish leftists.

According to Israeli media, a parliamentary vote of confidence, the last step to formalize the new government, could be held on Wednesday or the following Monday.

The political tensions come as the fourth parliamentary election held in March 2021 failed to establish a majority in forming a new government. After Netanyahu’s failure in forming a new government, Lapid informed President Reuven Rivlin, on the last day of the former’s mandate, that he can form the government, paving the way for the end of Netanyahu’s 12-year reign in office.

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