Israel's democracy is stronger than Netanyahu

Opinion: The prime minister's failure to dismantle the government by violating the coalition agreement with Blue & White proves that despite his unceasing search for more power, the state stands, but we cannot rest on laurels, for the danger remains

Ben-Dror Yemini|
Across Israel's northern border, Lebanese protesters are already clawing away at the parliament.
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  • Lebanon is a country divided, rampant with corruption and poverty. It is a nation that lives in the shadow of a terrorist organization whose main export is hate and Incitement and that sustains itself on corruption, money and Iranian backing.
    4 View gallery
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל הפגנה נגד המנהיגים
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל הפגנה נגד המנהיגים
    Lebanese protesters take to the streets of Beirut following the catastrophic blast in the capital's port last week
    (Photo: EPA)
    In the past, when ethnic rivalries governed the uppermost echelons of Lebanon, we called it "Lebanonization" – the disintegration of a country's central authority due to polarization and violent disputes between different factions within the country, be they political, ethnic or religious.
    This was an early and bloody predecessor to identity politics, where people of a particular identifying factor such as religion or ethnicity form exclusive sociopolitical alliances.
    Today, Israelis may want to pay attention to what is happening in our northern neighbor, for Lebanonization is starting to rear its head in Israel too, with one main difference. In Israel, it is the government itself that is driving this disintegration.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to drag Israel into yet another round of elections, while the majority of the top ranks of his Likud party cannot fathom why.
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    ההפגנה בבלפור
    ההפגנה בבלפור
    Anti-government protesters demonstrating in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    Perhaps their counsel will lead to the proposed compromise and the Knesset will agree to delay the date by which the state budget must be approved or the government will fall.
    Yet the issue remains even without the state budget row.
    Netanyahu is abusing both the coalition agreement and his supposed allies.
    How else would you define what Netanyahu is doing to his finance minister, Likud's own Israel Katz?
    Netanyahu is seeking a financial plan from Nir Barkat, one of Katz's political adversaries, while calling on former finance minister Moshe Kahlon to serve as Israel's economic czar.
    How else would Katz define such behavior by Netanyahu other than a kick in the face?
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    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz
    (Photo: Avi Cohen)
    This is not a dispute between political blocs. This is not a fight between the left and the right. A majority of the public, the Knesset and the upper echelons of the Israeli political system oppose the violation of the coalition agreement and early elections.
    Yet, there is one man with a very small group of advisers who thought that maybe, just maybe, going into a fourth round of elections would help him avoid his ongoing trial on corruption charges.
    He almost succeeded in dragging us there.
    Netanyahu's many allegations against the state prosecution and the justice system are negligible compared to what he is trying to do to the entire country.
    On Sunday, a new precedent was born. The government, for the first time ever, failed to convene over a disagreement about its agenda, while the Security Cabinet has convened once, and the "Reconciliation Cabinet," which was supposed to bridge the gap between the Likud and Blue & White parties, has never met.
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    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and coalition partner Defense Minister Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
    The state's fight against the coronavirus pandemic can safely be branded a failure. Yet instead of trying to improve in this fight, the entire political system is preoccupied with the many attempts to violate the coalition agreement.
    Israel is neither Turkey nor Lebanon. But you can already see the buds.
    The emerging budget compromise is a sign that Israel's democracy is still stronger that Netanyahu.
    We cannot however, rest on our laurels just yet. Because the prime minister's attempts are a worrying sign indeed.
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