Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni
warned Wednesday that the recent string of Coalition-led legislation will turn Israel
from a democracy to a dictatorship.
The Knesset plenum held a heated debate over several legislative bills, including the recent "silencing amendment" to Israel's Defamation Law, and a bill calling for the House to have veto power over the decisions of the Judges Nominations Commission.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
faced the plenum in defense of the libel bill,
and argued that "an amendment us necessary, but in good measure… Israel will never have a 'thought police,'" he assured Knesset members.
"We've always prided ourselves on being the only democracy in the Middle East," Livni said, referring to the uprising in Egypt.
"We were a democracy and they were A dictatorship. Now, they are trying to become a democracy, while we – with these bills – are heading towards dictatorship.
"We, the Israeli-Zionist majority, will not choose between a Jewish state and a democracy and this fight is at our door."
Fighting for freedom of speech? Livni (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
She then slammed the prime minister: "What was it you said once? 'They're all afraid?' You've taken over the Israel Broadcast Authority. I hear the Educational Channel and Army Radio are next for you.
"Soon, we'll see how IBA airtime is given to parrots, who will recite announcements by the Prime Minister's Office… Why should anyone believe you when you say the social protest has inspired you to instate changes?"
Kadima, she vowed, "Will continue to fight for the freedom of the press, for the status of the courts, for freedom of speech and for national service for all. The Israeli-Zionist majority who cares will overcome this, as well," she concluded.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) spoke at the beginning of the Knesset session and slammed Netanyahu's "dictatorship," warning that the Coalition's legislation was reminiscent of George Orwell's novel "1984": "Orwell's world is coming to life under your government's legislation, which is aiming to enforce elements of oppression and is creating a vision of horrors the likes of which we've never seen. It is as if 1984 is here."
Mofaz further warned against "Netanyahu, Lieberman
'though police,' which is gnawing at the rule of law. Their executive authority is crassly interfering – even sabotaging one can say – at the very heart of the judicial authority and is now threatening the media, as well."
MK Danny Danon (Likud)
countered: "Do not presume to teach us what democracy is," he told the Opposition. "If we don’t pursue legislation we believe in, we will be committing a sin against the truth and our voters.
"We will keep pushing legislation which is good for Israel and keeps the country's Jewish and democratic character," he said.