Netanyahu's Biggest Enemy: The State of Israel

The government and state are supposedly the same thing, but in the Israeli reality, the state's protective bodies have become enemies of the government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, April 3, 2016.
Ohad Zwigenberg

It’s not every day that the family of someone suspected of a serious crime – who, if convicted, could face 20 years in prison – is honored with a supportive and sympathetic phone call from the premier. But that is how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu operates every day, systematically and consistently undermining the proceedings and institutions of the State of Israel. Supposedly, the government and state are the same thing. But in the Israeli reality, the state has become an enemy of the government.

Netanyahu’s neutralization of the state has been carried out using the approach of operations research/systems analysis (ORSA). After all, that is what Israel tried to do in its military efforts against the Egyptian Air Force in June 1967, the Iranian enrichment of uranium and Hamas’ tunnels in Gaza: Studying the entire human and organizational chain in order to locate its weakest link.

As an enemy of the government, this logic is also applied to the State of Israel: The political leadership in the executive branch against the legislative and judicial branches, and systems of oversight, monitoring and checks and balances on the professional level. All of these were intended to preserve the balance of power.

The attack on the High Court of Justice in the natural gas framework case is not exceptional for someone who “personally” supported the insolent demands of his wife that a regional labor court judge – who dared grant legal force to the general impression of Sara’s offensive behavior toward employees fighting for their right to make a living – recuse herself from the case.

Netanyahu and his party sycophants – a group made up of long-tongued chameleons competing among themselves before the drawing-up of the party slate for the next Knesset election – are broadcasting the message that the court is not the authorized interpreter of the law, but merely another player in the political arena. In addition, not only is it not a preeminent body, it is subordinate to the government. And if the justices don’t understand this, it will be explained to them by changing the composition of the Supreme Court or the procedures of the Judicial Appointments Committee.

The attack on the Knesset is reflected in the so-called “Suspension Law.” This is not meant to change the balance of power between parties, since even if all 13 MKs from the Joint Arab List were to be suspended, the next 13 people on the party slate would enter the Knesset, and they would be equally combative. The threat is personal and targeted: the suspended MKs would lose their parliamentary immunity and will opt to remain silent, lest they be exposed to criminal proceedings.

The main effort has been made against the State Comptroller’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police. In all these cases, they have been worked over and humiliated.

Before the appointment of the new police chief last year, a minister whose authority in the matter has no peer put out feelers to a senior police chief. He wondered whether it would be possible to give the “kiss of death” to the case concerning the Netanyahu family’s residences. The officer refused to take the hint, informing the minister that the police will continue to act against public corruption.

Someone so out of touch with how his government operates is clearly inappropriate to command the police. The police costume, with the rank of police commissioner, was given instead to Roni Alsheich from the Shin Bet security service, and he has not done anything since his appointment last December. His competition in doing nothing is the new attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit.

Luckily for Netanyahu, he has no opposition facing him. Whether Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog has been caught up in criminal travails or not, his problematic attitude to the battle against corruption was exposed just before the last election, when he acted to shut out former police officer and Labor MK Moshe Mizrahi, who had investigated him over a nonprofit’s funding of Ehud Barak’s election campaign in 1999. It’s not that Herzog is that much cleaner than Netanyahu; he’s just a faded copy of the premier.

Only one island of sanity remains amid all this madness: the Israel Defense Forces. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot doesn’t have time for games due to the necessity of preparing for war. That’s why he has insisted on preventing a vacuum in the position of head of the Operations Division, after Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris was called away to deal with other matters. Netanyahu came along and, in the camouflage of providing backing to Eisenkot, plunged a telephone into his back.

We can only envy our neighbor to the east, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. There, when the crown might have been placed on the head of a dubious person – like in the case of the reportedly schizophrenic Prince Talal, after the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951 – the regents’ council met to arrange a solution to preserve the country’s sanity.