Netanyahu Says Protesters Just Don’t Get it, Blames Israeli ‘Propaganda’

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed a series of legislative changes that could drastically overhaul the nation’s judicial system, sparking protest from tens of thousands of Israelis.
  • In an interview with journalist Piers Morgan, Netanyahu blamed Israeli media for launching a “huge propaganda” campaign against him, but admitted he would scale back the proposal.
  • Netanyahu added that many protesters don’t understand the proposals.

In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he felt many Israelis protesting his proposed change in legislation don’t understand the intricacies of the bill.

At the end of last year, Netanyahu and Israel’s most far-right government in the nation’s history proposed a series of legislative changes that would drastically overhaul the nation’s judicial system and greatly limit the power of the Supreme Court of Israel. Tens of thousands of Israelis have protested, and Histadrut—Israel’s largest labor union—called for its members to strike.

In an interview that aired Monday morning with Morgan, Netanyahu admitted he would rein back his proposal, but said he felt the Israeli citizens didn’t truly understand what he was proposing. The prime minister blamed Israeli media for launching a “huge propaganda” campaign against him.

“I think a lot of people that go to these demonstrations, they’re patriotic Israelis. They want the good of the country, but a lot of them don’t actually know the details of the bills,” Netanyahu said.

“All these people protesting just don’t get it?” Morgan asked.

“Many of them don’t,” Netanyahu responded.

When pressed further by Morgan, who asked if that view is “slightly patronizing,” Netanyahu disagreed.

“I didn’t say that all of them don’t [understand],” Netanyahu said.

The protests have consisted of 250,000 to 500,000 Israelis weekly, the per capita equivalent to 10 million to 20 million Americans. Many of the nation’s economic sectors have participated, from health to business and government. On Monday, the nation’s largest airport closed. The strike soon grew worldwide, with the Embassy to Israel of the United States closing until further notice.

Despite Netanyahu admitting he plans to scale back the proposed legislation, Boaz Atzili, an associate professor at American University, told Newsweek on Monday that the worst-case scenario in the legislation is if the government continues to ignore the protests and moves forward.

Thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu
Tens of thousands of Israelis attend a massive protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plan on March 11 in Tel Aviv. Inset, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen. Israel’s government is pushing ahead with proposed overhaul of the judiciary that would limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to review and strike down laws that it deems unconstitutional. Critics say the changes will undermine judicial independence and threaten Israel’s democracy.

One of Netanyahu’s proposals includes the government acquiring power to override a Supreme Court decision with a simple majority vote.

“Given the composition of the coalition it is likely to pass legislature that will target the Arab minority, women, LGBTQ, and many other weaker elements in the society. It is also likely to deepen even more the suppression of the occupation in the West Bank and to promote annexation of it to Israel,” Atzili told Newsweek.

If legislation continues, Atzili said the right-wing mobilization could lead to “significant violence.”

According to Atzili, the best-case scenario with the protests is that the regime will fall. Netanyahu is currently facing a trial after he was indicted on charges of alleged corruption and faces accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

“As far as I’m concerned, the best possible scenario is that the government of Netanyahu will fall, and that the energies that animate the protest will lead to a creation of a large and inclusive liberal block and that will result in a decisive win in the next election,” Atzili added.

A change in leadership could positively benefit the country in other ways, Atzili said, such as propelling a “significant change” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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