A Reckless Prime Minister

The delicate tapestry of checks and balances, which is the very breath of democracy, is being trampled before our very eyes by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud press conference, January 1, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud press conference, January 1, 2014.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Israel’s citizens need to wake up and realize that the coming elections are showing signs of being illegal. They may well lack legal and moral validity even now. Benjamin Netanyahu, who is running amok and seized with panic over possibly being voted out of power, trampled what is left of Israeli democracy last month. Without shame or inhibitions, with the skin of an elephant and the determination of a rhinoceros that escaped from the Safari zoological center in Ramat Gan, he clutches the vision of Louis XIV (“L’état, c’est moi”) to his chest. The time has come for the nighttime guards to wake up. This cannot go on.

Before the coming elections, the Knesset disbanded itself and Netanyahu fired half his cabinet. Instead of running the transitional period until the elections with a minimum of action and involvement, Netanyahu has not rested for a moment. He is appointing ministers, installing his lackeys in key positions, and running security, political and economic moves at the strategic level by means of a small gang of plate-lickers.

The foreign minister is isolated and neutralized, and he has appointed a low-level clerk of 31 to run the Finance Ministry. Netanyahu already announced the immediate abolition of an enormous government plan (zero value-added tax on one’s first apartment) and the institution of two other giant moves at an accelerated pace – zero VAT on basic foodstuffs and a raise in the minimum wage. The Knesset’s Finance Committee is going wild. Billions of shekels are being transferred for mysterious security needs, and hundreds of millions to the settlements. Millions are going to the Jabotinsky and Begin Heritage Centers, and to the visitors’ center in Barkan.

The political-security sphere was once considered sacrosanct. Contrary to what is known here, almost humorously, as “election-season economics,” electoral manipulation there is considered taboo. But how can we trust a man who proves every single day that he has no God? An aerial attack on Syria and on the Lebanese border was attributed to Israel right after the Knesset was disbanded. Then the Gaza border started heating up again.

Now Netanyahu’s puppet government has decided to freeze half a billion shekels of the taxes it collects for the Palestinian Authority – a move that could lead to the PA’s rapid collapse, the cessation of security coordination and a dramatic change in the situation in the West Bank: a third intifada, de-facto annexation, renewed occupation of Area A. This kind of chaos can serve Netanyahu very well indeed before the elections, which are focusing on socioeconomic sinking so far and on the personal disappointment with him and his performance.

In this dirty rear-guard action, Netanyahu is not ashamed to sully and desecrate even the judicial authority and the state comptroller’s office. In a precedent-setting and embarrassing move, the state prosecutor’s office sought to postpone the trial in the lawsuit of the former house manager of the prime minister’s official residence against Sara Netanyahu until after the elections.

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is delaying the release of a signed report about the investigation of the decisions and performance during Operation Protective Edge. In other words, a veil has been thrown over the most significant event that took place during the term of Netanyahu’s government. The public has no right to know the findings before it goes to the polls.

The delicate tapestry of checks and balances, which is the very breath of democracy, is being trampled before our very eyes. There is, at present, no action that Netanyahu is taking that does not represent, blatantly, internal politics. His speech at the official ceremony of the Bible Quiz was devoted to election propaganda; his purpose in appointing Gila Gamliel as welfare minister was to signal to the public that Miri Regev, the star of Likud’s party primary, was not necessary the first lady of the party.

No worries: Later in the week, we will certainly get to watch him visiting the cross-branch emergency headquarters set up to deal with the damage caused by the storm. But we have a snowball right in front of us in the form of a reckless prime minister.

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