Opinion

Bennett for Defense, Shaked for Justice

File photo: Hayamin Hehadash campaign poster featuring Naftali Bennett and Ayeled Shaked in central Israel, February 20, 2019.
Emil Salman

Once again Hamas dictated the timing of this round of violence and the price of its partial, temporary halt. The ongoing suffering of the south’s residents is a negligible issue in the election campaign. Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan’s generals have a clear interest to stifle the issue. After all, they stood at the top of the pyramid in the major, failed campaigns in Gaza – and in countless “interim campaigns.”

Naftali Bennett, who has a detailed program to break out of this vicious cycle, is being attacked for being a “war monger.” Our ears, accustomed to hear the trumpet calls of victory when the real result is the opposite (as it was this week as well), have difficulty getting used to Bennett’s harsh criticism of the apple of the nation’s eye – the IDF. Even his outcries about the tunnels – thanks to which the lives of quite a few Israelis were saved – aren’t held to his credit now, when he is proving that the ongoing containment concept, which is upheld by the leaders of the two parties about to win more than 60 Knesset seats, is leading to a dead end. None of his vociferous rivals has a convincing answer to the truth he is laying down. And when there’s no answer, they try, as is customary these days, to slander.

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To destroy Gaza’s network of rockets, Israel can carry out isolated attacks to destroy the missile arsenals and workshops where they are produced. As in Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002, before it quit the Gaza Strip, Israel must build an intelligence and operational infrastructure that will prevent more rocket production, smuggling and firing. These will be relatively long operations, they will carry a price, but after the goal is achieved Israel’s citizens will be able to heave a sigh of relief, especially those in the south. Millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will also emerge from darkness into light. The IDF is capable of achieving this, and the price will be prohibitive if it doesn’t.

Another critical effort for the country’s well-being is the reinstatement of the separation of powers. Here too the right-wing governments acted feebly. They enabled the appointed agencies, mainly the legal system, to annex legislative and operational authorities reserved by law for the legislative and executive branches.

The High Court of Justice exploited those governments’ lack of self-confidence and changed itself from a professional-judicial body into a supreme legislator. Likud justice ministers such as Dan Meridor and Tzachi Hanegbi were like clay in the hands of Supreme Court President Aharon Barak while he was carrying out his “constitutional revolution.” The ministries legal advisers, backed by the High Court of Justice, turned their “advice” into diktats. The legal establishment took steps to besmirch justice ministers who tried to balance this anomaly (Daniel Friedmann), and even to incriminate them (Yaakov Neeman, Haim Ramon).

Then Ayelet Shaked came along and started the thousand-mile journey to reinstate the balance between the Knesset and government and the legal system, even though she didn’t get the required backing from Netanyahu to bring about a real revolution. Her main achievement was appointing several conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Since she is made of sterner stuff, and since the media has changed quite a bit, the forces that ousted her predecessors understood that the old system won’t work anymore.

Another term in the Justice Ministry will give Shaked the opportunity to complete the changes in the law to appoint judges – especially by means of revoking the Supreme Court justices’ veto over appointing their successors, and with legislation that bypasses the Supreme Court and revokes the power of the ministries’ legal advisers to act as decisive tribunals.

Shaked is the only one in the national camp with the willpower and intellectual, political and leadership skills to accomplish all this.