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Israeli president urges calm after heightened rhetoric, tensions erupt between lawmakers

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at a gathering of bereaved brothers, in Tel Aviv, Dec. 13, 2022. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called on lawmakers to control their cantankerous discourse and restore calm after rhetoric reached a crescendo this week between coalition and opposition members accusing each other of inciting civil war and calling for arrests on charges of treason.

“The values of the Declaration of Independence are the compass of our country – I will not allow them to be harmed,” Herzog said in a tweet. “This is a sensitive and explosive period in the Israeli public. I am awake to the voices heard from here and there, and to all the pains, worries, and anxieties. It doesn't go unnoticed and keeps me busy.”

"In the last few days, I have been working and holding talks with many parties and doing everything in order to bring about the existence of a dignified and respectful dialogue, hoping to reach as broad an understanding as possible.”

“I appeal to you elected officials and citizens of Israel from the entire public and political spectrum – show restraint and responsibility. We must calm the spirits and lower the flames. We have no other country.”

After a phone call with the president, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for opposition ministers to be arrested.

“In a democratic country, opposition chiefs aren’t arrested, just like government ministers aren’t called Nazis, Jewish governments aren’t called the Third Reich and civil disobedience among the public isn’t encouraged,” he said.

Other Likud party members echoed these words, including Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“I call on everyone — from right and left — to calm the waters. Words carry significance and we are entering dangerous territory. Even in times of deep disagreement, the job of public leaders is to preserve national unity,” he said on Twitter.

Tzvika Fogel yesterday called for the arrest of the opposition leaders on charges of treason for calling on the public to protest proposed judicial reform.

However, Fogel received support from fellow Jewish Power party member Amichai Eliyahu.

“I don’t understand how we are not all echoing the cries of pain made by my friend Tzvika Fogel,” he said, adding that Lapid and others are “putting a potential civil war on the public agenda and undoing the civil basis that unites us, and everyone is silent.”

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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