On the verge of losing his record-long hold on power, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Facebook was trying to silence the right-wing and that his political rivals were endangering the country.
In tones reminiscent of former U.S. President Trump's allegations of "a stolen election." His comments came a day after the domestic security service appealed to leaders to tone down rhetoric for fear it would spark violence.
"We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy," Netanyahu said. "That's why people justifiably feel deceived and they are responding, they must not be shut up," he said in broadcast comments to his Likud faction.
Netanyahu, 71, is facing the prospect of an end to his 12-year run as premier after Israel's centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid announced on Wednesday (June 2) that he had succeeded in forming a governing coalition with parties from across the political spectrum, including, for the first time in Israel's history, an Arab Islamist party. The government has yet to be sworn in.
Some right-wing groups are angry at the man expected to replace Netanyahu as prime minister - Naftali Bennett, the leader of an ultra-nationalist party who broke his campaign pledge not to join a coalition with Lapid and left-wing and Arab parties.
Protests have been held outside the homes of his party members and their security has been beefed up following threats on social media, prompting the head of the Shin Bet to issue a rare warning on Saturday saying extreme online discourse could lead to real violence.
While condemning violence and incitement, Netanyahu repeated his designation of the Lapid-Bennett coalition as a dangerous leftist alliance. "This government is endangering Israel with such a danger the likes of which we have not seen for many years," he said.
He called on Bennett's party members to object to the new government in a confidence vote that has not yet been set.
Netanyahu said Facebook and Twitter had been blocking legitimate right-wing criticism of the new government. He added that Facebook had removed a right-wing post that included the address of a Knesset member, where a protest was set to take place, while a left-wing post with the same address calling on people to support the lawmaker, was not taken down.
"It's a scientific case, simply scientific, clinical, that proves an attempt to shut up the right-wing," Netanyahu said.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Facebook said:
"Privacy and the protection of personal information are important to helping people feel safe on our services. Under our global Community Standards, we do not allow people to post personal or confidential information about others, including people's addresses and phone numbers, therefore we remove such content once we become aware of it" - a Facebook Company spokesperson.
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