In the coming weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss the controversial reforms of the rule of law with the opposition. The opposition has little faith in it. The Israeli prime minister, who wants to rule at all costs, is held hostage by the hardliners in his coalition.
Forced by fierce protests and a massive strike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt compelled on Monday to put his reform plans on hold for the time being. Israelis are terrified that nothing will remain of their democracy if the Supreme Court’s veto power is curtailed and the government gains more say in the appointment of judges.
However, everything indicates that postponement certainly does not mean postponement. First of all, through the words of the prime minister. “One way or another, we will carry out the reform,” Netanyahu said in his speech on Monday. And then there are the deeds. On Tuesday, for example, the government took several bureaucratic steps necessary to pass the new law on the appointment of judges. If the negotiations on the reforms succeed, the law can be put to the vote within a few days.
On behalf of the United States, Israel’s main ally, self-proclaimed “zionist” Joe Biden made it clear this week what he thought of it. He is “seriously concerned,” the president said, when asked by journalists about the developments. “Israel cannot continue with this.”A visit to Washington is not for Netanyahu for the time being. He took office as prime minister for the sixth time at the end of december and traditionally a visit to the ally quickly follows. But Biden firmly said that Netanyahu ” will not have to count on an invitation in the short term.”
Joe Biden has known Netanyahu longer than Sara (the woman Netanyahu married in 1991, Ed.) “, the analyst Anshel Pfeiffer commented on Twitter. Biden knows better than anyone how to cheat the Israeli Prime Minister. At the end of February, for example, in negotiations in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, in which the US was also present, Israel promised not to expand settlements on Palestinian territory in the coming months. Once home, the Netanyahu government announced that there was nothing wrong: an expansion of ten thousand homes had already been approved and a new plan would still require months of work.
“I don’t believe that man.”
Biden said: “Hopefully the Israeli prime minister is behaving in a way that will lead to a real compromise.”The Opposition in Israel has little faith in Netanyahu and will do everything to keep the pressure on the cauldron. “We are all willing to sit at the table with Netanyahu,” MP Orna Barbivai, who is part of the negotiating team on behalf of centrist party Yesh Atid, said on Tuesday during a radio interview. “But not with closed eyes. I don’t believe that man.’
But even if Netanyahu were willing to move, the coalition he joined will not allow it: as soon as he adds water to the wine, they pull the plug on the government. Many analysts point out that Netanyahu has become a hostage to his own box of tricks. To gain power, he made far-right settlers salonfähig and then placed them at the heart of his government. In addition, the prime minister leans on the support of ultra-Orthodox parties who see the reforms as a way to push through their religious wishes.
The protests of recent months, in which the mainly secular middle class and elite make themselves heard, are therefore a reflection of a divide that has divided the country for years. Those between religious conservatives and secular liberals; between ultra-Orthodox Torah students exempted from conscription and reservists; between settlers in the occupied West Bank and the citizens of Israel across the border. This gap has only deepened in recent months. No matter what happens in the near future, he will not be easily bridged.
There is no talk of occupation
Then there is another gap that remains underexposed in the protests. “On the one hand, our society is based on liberal values and freedoms, on the other hand, nationalism and racism are deeply rooted here,” said one of Israel’s best-known human rights lawyers, Michael Sfard. For the former, the protesters are fighting hard, but the occupation is hardly part of the debate.
In short: people stand up for their way of life, for women and the rights of LGBTI minorities, but not for Palestinians, whose existence casts a great shadow over the question of what Israeli democracy really stands for. And that while Palestinian land and Palestinian political aspirations will be further jeopardized if Netanyahu and his far-right allies have implemented their reforms.