JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out at anti-reform protesters as he departed for his trip to the US early Monday morning, accusing them of joining forces with Israel’s enemies including Iran and the PLO, according to a Times of Israel report.
Netanyahu’s departure was met with a protest by several hundred people at Ben Gurion International Airport, with chants urging the prime minister to “go and don’t come back.”
In remarks made to reporters before his departure, Netanyahu condemned the anti-reform protesters, apparently both in Israel and the US, accusing them of “allying with the PLO and Iran” in their activities, which he framed as being against Israel rather than against his government.
“Whoever organizes the protests does it with a lot of money and financially backed demonstrations. They have made it so that blocking roads is a normal thing, that refusal [to serve in the military and in the reserves] is a normal thing, and they are defaming Israel before the world. It seems normal to them. I was the head of the opposition and I did not slander Israel in the world,” said the prime minister of the mass protests against his government.
“We are seeing people that are joining forces with the PLO, with Iran, and with others. Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said
Netanyahu’s office later explained that he was referring to protests against his government scheduled at the same time as BDS and pro-Iran protests in the US.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) fumed at Netanyahu’s statements, claiming that he was the one damaging Israel’s image and aiding Iran.
“There is no person who has destroyed our image in the world more than Netanyahu in recent months,” Lapid said. “Nothing helps the Iranians more than the regime overhaul of his government. His accusations against the patriots of the protest is more proof of the serious disruption to his judgment and understanding of reality.”
National Unity party leader Benny Gantz said that Netanyahu was causing “tremendous damage” to Israeli society with his conduct.
“Netanyahu’s attack, accusing the protesters in the US of colluding with our enemies, is serious and worthy of all condemnation,” Gantz said, adding that “Even if we disagree on the course of action, we are talking about patriots, lovers of the country. Even a thousand flame-throwing speeches at the United Nations will not repair the tremendous damage that Netanyahu is causing to Israeli society through his conduct. It’s time to stop the regime overhaul and bring order to the government, instead of blaming the protesters,” he said.
Organizers of the protests in the United States responded angrily to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that they are “joining forces with the PLO and Iran.” The leaders said that “loving Israel means protecting it from becoming a dictatorship. You are more like a dictator on the run.”