Former prime minister Ehud Barak said opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial legislation will move to non-violent civil disobedience and may result in lives lost. In an interview to CBS on Tuesday Barak said he considered Netanyahu's government to be illegitimate and even illegal.
“He [Netanyahu] is heavily isolated, desperate, he’s out of focus and balance, and his government is blatantly illegitimate, even illegal,” Barak told CBS’s Errol Barnett, adding that protest led by the prime minister’s proposed overhaul may cost the lives. “Some people might lose their lives along the way, we’ll have to face toil and sweat and tears. There might be some violence, which always comes from the right wing,” Barak said.
Barak spoke as Netanyahu was in New York to address the UN General Assembly and ahead of the prime minister's long-awaited meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden later on Wednesday. Protesters have been gathering outside Netanyahu's hotel and elsewhere in the city, accusing him of lies and urging the world not to believe his claims that he is not assaulting Israeli democracy. He said Netanyahu's coalition was trying to change the very system of government, turning Israel from a place where there are limits to the government's power, which until now "cannot take whatever it wants from groups, minorities, the LGBT community, or women and will turn into a government that can do these things, and we won’t let it happen," he said. "We’re heading into a non-violent civil disobedience. We will block this attempt on the life of Israeli democracy, and we will win this battle. It might take time, but we will put an end to it. “Netanyahu doesn’t have the troops, will, or ability to do it. We are not going to turn into a de-facto dictatorship. We the people are defending our democracy against an attempt to destroy it from within.”
Barak told CBS that Netanyahu has “created an unholy alliance," to save him from three criminal court cases being litigated in the Jerusalem District Court. "He joined hands with extreme parties, one of them a messianic and racist party.”
Barak then compared Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Proud Boys, an American far-right neo-fascist militant organization that promotes and engages in political violence which has been designated as a terrorist group. “This is the equivalent of taking the Proud Boys and making one of their leaders the secretary for treasury and the other of homeland security.”