On Monday, the head of the “Just Not Bibi” camp, Benny Gantz, laid the foundation for a historic precedent, by which a lawmaker accused of criminal wrongdoing is entitled to form a government. Moreover, Gantz agreed to anchor a clause in the coalition deal that requires him to dissolve the Knesset if the High Court of Justice dares to intervene and disqualify Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the name of hundreds of thousands of people who voted “just not Bibi,” Gantz has exempted Netanyahu from being subject to the prevailing law, thereby whitewashing Netanyahu’s corruption and lending his hand to the destruction of the foundations of this country’s democracy.
Without a shred of self-awareness, the person who waged a campaign that compared Netanyahu to Erdogan has agreed to become Erdogan’s deputy. The attempts by Gantz and his partner, former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, to signal to their voters that they would be like undercover agents defending democracy and the rule of law from within the coalition, were pathetic, given their willingness to sign a deal giving the accused a veto on appointments of Supreme Court justices who may eventually determine his case’s outcome.
The attempt by Kahol Lavan’s leaders to market their decision as fulfilling their promise to protect the rule of law is an insult to one’s intelligence, and to the IDF. The former chiefs of staff not only let the accused decide which justices sit on the panel appointing new judges, but also “succeeded” in maneuvering their rival into accepting veto power over the appointments of the police commissioner, the attorney general and the state prosecutor. The wily generals even managed to forego the inclusion of an opposition member in the judicial appointments committee, insisting on blocking former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein from assuming this post again for the sake of a “compromise” by which MK Yariv Levin, the person who only a month ago challenged the Supreme Court president, accusing her of trying to take over the Knesset and lead a coup, becomes the new speaker.
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With the flimsy excuse of responding to the wishes of “the majority of the nation,” Netanyahu and Gantz have agreed to establish a government that is totally disconnected from the nation. At the height of the coronavirus crisis, with over a million Israelis added to the ranks of the unemployed, businesses collapsing and the economy rapidly approaching the point of no return, these two will head the most bloated government in the country’s history, with over 30 cabinet members, 16 deputy ministers, two official prime ministerial residences and one Norwegian law, which will enable further bloating.
If that weren’t enough, hundreds of thousands of Israelis who voted against annexation and apartheid cringed upon hearing that their votes might pave the way for the most reckless move in this country’s history. Calling this massive defrauding of voters an “emergency national government” is demeaning. This is a national corruption government, and it is a sad day for Israeli democracy.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.