“We have a one-time opportunity to establish a fully right-wing government,” is the central message of Benjamin Netanyahu’s election advertising. This government would comprise Likud, the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties, Religious Zionism and Yamina. The prospect of such a government should trouble any citizen who believes in democracy and equality.
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Every Netanyahu government so far has included parties from the center and even the left. Whether it was Moshe Kahlon and his Kulanu party, which blocked legislation that would have allowed the Knesset to override High Court dismissals of unconstitutional laws, or Avi Nissenkorn and Benny Gantz protecting the Justice Ministry – all halted extreme moves and reduced the potential damage by Netanyahu and his minions. A government of Netanyahu-Yaakov Litzman-Arye Dery-Naftali Bennett-Bezalel Smotrich-Itamar Ben Gvir, in which Likud would be the left flank, would be a nightmare government liable to push Israel to the brink of the abyss.
Such a government would try to fire Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who has been marked by Netanyahu and his gang as the chief conspirator against Netanyahu and the tailor of the cases against him, and block the permanent appointment of Interim State Prosecutor Amit Aisman, a Kahol Lavan appointee, replacing them both with Netanyahu associates. With such an attorney general and state prosecutor, the government can advance initiatives to delay or cancel Netanyahu’s trial on three corruption cases.
But this would not be enough so long as the judiciary remains independent and the High Court of Justice has the power to overturn unconstitutional laws. That’s why a fully right-wing government will seek to weaken the judicial system, castrate that gatekeepers and legislate the override clause. Then it will also be able to persecute asylum seekers, jail them indefinitely and forcefully expel them to wherever it chooses. It will be able to expand construction in the settlements, legalize illegal outposts, ignore the disturbances by hilltop youth and work toward annexing the occupied territories without naturalizing the Palestinians living in them. In other words, it would turn the occupation into a situation of apartheid.
The political power of the Haredim and the Haredi-nationalists would give them the opportunity to promote Jewish components at the expense of Israel’s democratic components, undermine civil rights, ignore the struggles of minorities, LGBTQ people and women, and undercut the principle of equality through legislation, curricula in the education system and in the public square (exclusion of women, for example).
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The right-wing dream government that Netanyahu is marketing to his voters would be the nightmare of any liberal, be they secular, traditional or religious, and of anyone who isn’t a nationalist extremist who believes in Jewish supremacy. Such a government would be a true hell for Arabs, asylum seekers and the LGBTQ community. It must not happen.