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The insolent defiance of the hesder yeshiva soldiers who announced that they would not evacuate outposts the government has decided to dismantle, and the audacity of those on the right who blame this behavior on the government for using the IDF in carrying out the decision to evacuate settlements from the Gaza Strip, reflect the breakdown of state authority in Israeli society and the disturbing phenomenon of a government that opts not to govern.

It would have been preferable had the army not been used in evacuating the settlements from Gaza and northern Samaria. It would have been preferable for the settlers to carry out the government decision and leave alone, without having made it necessary to use force against them. But the government is authorized to decide on the use of the army, if it believes this is necessary to ensure that the decision is carried out and its authority applied. This is certainly the situation in the territories, where the army is sovereign and not the civil authority.

But Ariel Sharon's decision to evacuate the Gaza Strip settlements was an unusual event. For decades, on many important issues, Gush Emunim ruled over the government, instead of the government ruling the country, and got Israel mixed up in an unnecessary and damaging settlement enterprise in the territories. In the disengagement plan the government took back the reins of power.

Not surprisingly, and in view of the possibility that force would be used by the government, Gush Emunim accepted the decision, and the settlements were evacuated under protest but without a violent mutiny. Statements and threats from the right since have only become more extreme, trying to deter the government from further evacuations of settlements and outposts.

Stripping the state of its governing authority is particularly glaring in the settlements, but is also evident elsewhere. The demonstrations by the Haredim in Jerusalem ended with a strange compromise between Intel's management and the rabbis, stipulating who may work on Shabbat at the company's Jerusalem factory. This agreement reflects the government's unwillingness to exercise its responsibility to govern.

Accepting a situation of illegal demonstrations and threats on workers, instead of firmly dispersing the demonstrations and taking harsh measures against its organizers and participants, only encourages the Haredim to continue using their power to take over running the capital's affairs. The permits issued by the state to operate the factory on Shabbat have proved invalid, and are being replaced by work permits issued by the rabbis.

The justice minister, who is trying to divide the existing authorities of the attorney general between the state prosecutor and a legal adviser to the government, should busy himself with enforcing the law and battling crime. These have been highlighted by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman as key problems that should be resolved.

The law enforcement authorities have registered impressive successes in recent years, in the existing structure, and what is necessary for stepping up the fight against crime is the determination that exists today, and means. It is not the weakening of law enforcement that is necessary to bolster the rule of law, but the government's determination to exercise its authority and govern, and not allow interested parties to essentially strip it of power. For this we need a leadership that must also be seen.