Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders condemned on Thursday the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump during a Congress hearing to confirm Democrat Joe Biden's win in the November 2020 election.
During a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Netanyahu - a close ally of the Republican president - labeled the unrest in the U.S. capital that ended in four deaths and 52 arrests as "disgraceful."
"The storming of the Capitol Building in Washington was disgraceful and deserving of all condemnation," Netanyahu said.
"For generations, American democracy has been an inspiration to the world and Israel. This violent riot is the complete opposite of the values Americans and Israelis hold dear. I have no doubt that American democracy will prevail - as it always did."
Netanyahu's rivals condemned his hesitance to comment on the unrest. The premier was also criticized for hesitating to comment when U.S. media projected Biden to become the next president. Donald Trump has contested the results, raising claims of widespread voter fraud and irregularities that tipped the scale in favor of the former Delaware senator.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the images from Washington "hurt the hearts of everyone who believes in democracy."
"I did not believe I would see such scenes in the most powerful democracy in the world," he added.
The incident "is proof that before political rivalry, we must agree on the rules of the game: Maintaining the rule of law, respecting democratic procedures and respectful discourse," he said.
"I was shocked to see the attack on the American Congress, a global bulwark of democracy, and this must be roundly condemned from sun-up to sun-down," Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. "The United States, our great and strong friend, is a lighthouse for democracy and for values of freedom, justice and independence."
"I am sure that the American people and their elected representatives will know how to fend off this attack and will continue to defend the values on which the United States was founded," he added.
New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar said that the images coming from Washington D.C. show the dangers of polarization and fragility of democracy.
"I was saddened to see the pictures from Washington D.C. last night. Order has been restored and I am sure there will be an orderly transition of power in the United States, our greatest friend in the world," Sa'ar said on Twitter.
"The events serve as an important reminder of the dangers of polarization and extremism in society. We must never take democracy and its institutions for granted."
"I’m deeply saddened and shocked by the images from the United States," opposition leader and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said on Twitter. "My thoughts are with all my friends in Washington tonight. We hope to see order restored and the transition of power completed. America needs to go back to being a role model for democracies across the world."
Leader of the Israelis Party and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai lambasted Netanyahu for keeping mum on the events in the U.S. capital.
"It is not by chance that Netanyahu is not responding to the horrifying events in Washington," Huldai said.
"In Netanyahu's mind, [he] is more important than the state. Israel will have a change of government, too. Israelis will know how to do it right. Democracy always wins."
Huldai also said that Tel Aviv city hall's facade will be illuminated the U.S. flag Thursday evening to "strengthen and respect the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."