Prime Minister Netanyahu is forever led by far-right

Opinion: Netanyahu never truly leads; he is always determined to ride the far-right extremist beast, only to lose control and jump ship, which raises the question
Nadav Eyal|
Since January, Israel has been embroiled in a tumultuous drama. In recent days, the situation has reached its peak, and the country is experiencing a terrible decline. We find ourselves sliding down a rabbit hole into a dystopia like the one described in the novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."
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The so-called "judicial reform" claims to improve democracy, but according to every jurist both in Israel and around the world, it will erode it. A government made up of draft doggers is preaching to others about patriotism and duty. Brave Air Force pilots, who dedicated their entire lives in service to the country, are being threatened with prison by Transport Ministry Miri Regev. And soldiers who refuse to take up arms for a non-democratic regime are unjustly branded as conspirators in a military coup.
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מליאת הכנסת
מליאת הכנסת
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: AFP)
While some in the coalition argue that the reasonability clause passing its legislation on Monday, is a minute change to the existing law, Netanyahu refuses to consider suspending its vote making it the most critical bill for Israel. At the same time, his coalition partner Itamar Ben-Gvir promises the bill is just the appetizer in a smorgasbord of laws coming down the pipe. The prime minister told world leaders that Israel's democracy was robust and will remain so while seating around his cabinet table the likes of ultra-right homophobic and racist Avi Maoz, who explicitly said Israel need not be a democratic state.
And so it continues, contradictions upon contradictions, and lie upon lie. All in the service of the basic lie that the judicial legislation was meant to improve the lives of Israelis. How exactly will amending the reasonableness clause achieve that? What legislation will the government propose to help the people living in this tormented land who may suffer further as a result of the bill?
The answer is known to all, including the many opponents of the government who have been protesting for months, know that they have been taken hostage by Justice Minister Yariv Levin while their country implodes and fractures from within. Reform of any kind must include the protection of citizens.
If real reform was the government's aim, the path would have been through thoughtfully identifying problems, reviewing them with the help of judicial experts and then proposing a variety of solutions to resolve them and not a power grab by Simcha Rothman and the need for revenge of his partner - Levine.
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מליאת הכנסת
מליאת הכנסת
MK Simcha Rotman Justice Minister Yariv Levin
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Recent attempts at reconciliation were not in talks between the ruling Likud and opposition parties. Over one-third of Likud voters are strongly opposed to any judicial overhaul. The strong axis within the government is Smotrich-Ben Gvir-Levin, they alone decide the government's position. Netanyahu may be too weak to stand up to them or he may support their positions but either way, he had surrendered control of the government, to them.
Just imagine, if the Prime Minister had given a simple speech in favor of suspending legislation in order to reach a compromise during the summer recess. He could have easily taken such a step without any pressure and without committing to any concessions, and without the typical panic that surrounds his decision-making processes.
Levine may have then resigned, but what of it? Would Ben-Gvir have toppled the only coalition he could ever hope to be a part of? Would he have forced new elections when all polling indicates his party's current size in the Knesset would not be repeated? In those polls the center-left stands to win a 66-seat majority.
Netanyahu, who wanted to be remembered alongside David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, and Ariel Sharon in the annals of the state, has never - until now - succeeded in mustering true political courage. He never succeded in leading without being led. He was determined to control the far-right extremist beast, but has always lost control and had to jump ship before trying again. This is how Israel is teetering on the edge, heading toward the abyss.
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