Tova Zimuky
Tova Zimuky
Photo: Ynet
Benjamin Netanyahu oversees a pretrial cabinet meeting

Netanyahu trial lays bare a battle for Israel's law enforcement

Analysis: On one side is modern legal system, which seeks to bring Israeli society under apolitical and equitable rules, and on the other is PM, whose alleged personal corruption, propaganda and incitement have ruptured society

Tova Zimuky |
Published: 05.24.20, 12:35
The event that began on Sunday in Jerusalem District Court goes far beyond the legal aspects of Benjamin Netanyahu's fate.
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  • Beyond the unprecedented sight of an incumbent prime minister on trial, there is a massive battle being waged for hegemony and control of the judiciary.
    3 View gallery
     ישיבת ממשלה
     ישיבת ממשלה
    Benjamin Netanyahu oversees a pretrial cabinet meeting
    (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
    On one side is the modern legal system, with its liberal values, which seeks to bring Israeli society under apolitical, equitable and updated rules.
    The other side is embodied in Netanyahu, whose alleged personal corruption and his use of propaganda and incitement to escape his legal woes have ruptured Israeli society.
    Thanks to his mastery of manipulation, Netanyahu has actually led half of Israeli society to express a lack of faith in state institutions. When they see the judges and the prosecutor at the trial, it is doubtful they believe them.
    The societal crisis catches the legal system at a difficult time. But it has to be said that the writing has been on the wall for many years.
    The senior echelons of the State Prosecutor's Office and the court system radiate disdain, denial and even contempt for criticism, both internal and external.

    3 View gallery
    הפגנת תמיכה בנתניהו
    הפגנת תמיכה בנתניהו
    Supporters of the prime minister rally in Jerusalem as his trial opens. The poster reads: 'Netanyahu, you will never walk alone'
    (Photo: Moshe Ben Ami)
    Any attempt to tackle problems within the judicial system is immediately met with opposition, claiming collaboration with "the corrupt" and those trying to bring down the courts.
    This situation is exacerbated by problems that do exist, namely, delayed decision-making and adjudication, allegations of cronyism by appointing associates as judges and backroom deals in the Knesset's Judicial Selection Committee. All of these have contributed to the sense of the "little people" that justice is not on offer for them.
    This is the sociopolitical background to Netanyahu's trial. As a result, prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, who represents the public interest, will face the accused armed with the usual stacks of prepared evidence and testimony, but will also have her own physical security.
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    ליאת בן ארי
    ליאת בן ארי
    Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari has personal protection as though this were a mob trial
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Before her are three district judges, the best the system has to offer, and they too will be given security, as if this were a trial of mob bosses.
    Joining this tableau will be the prime minister, who, instead of showing respect for himself, the citizens of Israel and the gravity of the situation, will surely grace the court with one of his trademark sneers.
    Showing her courtside support for Netanyahu is Miri Regev, the same Likud minister who sits on the Judicial Selection Committee - but who cares about conflicts of interest these days.
    This trial is not expected to be just another legal process. This is a battle between a correct, equitable and just process and the constant subversion of it, including political antics and attempts to deter Israel's law enforcement system.
    There has been endless chatter that the entire process is contaminated and illegitimate, but so is its outcome.

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