Analysis

Netanyahu Is Seeking a Free Hand to Commit Crimes

If Netanyahu succeeds, the Knesset will become an institution that obstructs justice, like a crime organization

Netanyahu speaks at a Likud rally, Jerusalem, February 21, 2019.
Moti Milrod

In response to his seemly statements regarding the proposal to amend the law granting immunity to Knesset members, Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar was accused of high treason, the most heinous of crimes. Netanyahu supporters continue to defend the need to amend the law.

At the same time, Likud and the prime minister declared that this topic will not be discussed in the framework of the coalition agreements with other parties. This means that it will be discussed through covert channels.

Secrecy marches hand in hand with what needs to be hidden – rule-bending tricks and deals that reek. That is where the real negotiations will take place, and that’s where the real reward lies, since the amendment is nothing but a means of granting immunity to Netanyahu, Interior Minister Arye Dery, Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and MK David Bitan (and the ones that follow them).

>> Read More: Likud can draw a line against Netanyahu | Editorial ■ Four lawmakers stand between Israel and a banana republic | Analysis ■ If need be, he'll replace the state | Opinion  ■ The ultimate deal: Netanyahu's freedom for his citizens' liberty | Analysis

The crucial decision will be the one made by the Knesset with regard to the immunity of these subjects of investigation. This has to be ensured in advance, otherwise what’s the advantage of any coalition agreement? Why are we, the amendment supporters, in politics other than to violate laws in order to benefit ourselves without interference?

The thesis formulated so well by Likud spokesmen (how will Netanyahu reward them?) is that MKs cannot rule without ensuring that the arm of the law never reaches them. In other words, there is no governance without a license for corruption (a time-limited one, but in practise unlimited, since a belated prosecution is akin to re-warming soup that’s gone off).

This tells us what the people complaining of a lack of governability are really after – a free hand to break the law. They don’t trust law enforcement authorities and they complain about vague criminal prohibitions (not a baseless claim with regard to some kinds of transgressions, but one which leads them to misguided conclusions).

Mistakenly, or deliberately, they are preparing a bill of immunity, in practise a bill of lawlessness, for the entire country. Why should citizens obey vague laws, the enforcement of which rests in the hands of untrustworthy elements? This law is a call for citizens to thumb their noses at laws. In the prevailing culture, in which many people already relate to laws only as recommendations, this call will fall on receptive ears.

No rhetorical device is shunned in order to purify this abomination, even comparing this move to Germany’s law books. It’s true that in that country it is necessary to approach parliament to request the removal of immunity, but there it is merely a ceremony the result of which – the removal of immunity – is self-evident. Here, a similar law is intended entirely to achieve the opposite result – maintaining a Knesset member’s immunity. This is how the public is misled.

A more serious deception is Netanyahu’s claim that he is a victim of a political witch-hunt, the sole purpose of which is to depose him. To accept this argument, one has to believe that dozens of police officers and attorneys, including the heads of our law enforcement agencies, which include confirmed right-wingers, conspired to topple a right-wing government. This is unbelievable. This thesis is likely to sound like a false conspiracy, a joke, a load of nonsense. It can’t be taken as the truth.

The real negotiations between the parties are explicitly or implicitly linking the usual topics discussed in forming a coalition to finding a way to let suspects and people under indictment evade legal proceedings. Thus, the negotiations are pervaded by an extraneous element – personal and proscribed benefits (with a clear financial dimension) that constitute obstruction of a judicial process. This is a benefit no public official should trade in, since it sullies the entire process and its results.

Any law passed after this horse-trading will not even have the semblance of normalcy, with even its opponents not viewing it as legislation they must honor. It will constitute a total distortion of the legislative process and an abuse of the power to legislate. The Knesset will become an institution that obstructs justice, like a crime organization.

Subsequent votes will involve pre-arranged deals, as if a judge were pre-judging before hearing a case, or giving biased rulings. Everyone knows there is no political persecution at play here.

One shouldn’t gloss over the fact that Netanyahu misled his voters before the election, saying he wouldn’t deal with this law. In order to prevent the total corruption of our governing institutions, Netanyahu must be held to his word. The voice of a patriotic Israel, committed to the character of this country, must be heard loud and clear.