Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to delete from his Twitter account an interview he gave to Sky News Arabia, in which he referred to the United Arab Emirates as a “progressive democracy.”
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Netanyahu realized that there are limits, after all. Even according to his lenient definition of truth, describing a country as a “progressive democracy” when its rulers inherit their positions and where political parties are banned, sounds too far-fetched.
The question is whether Israel under Netanyahu is worthy of that epithet, never mind the millions of Palestinians living under occupation for the last 53 years. Referring to the accord reached with the UAE, Benny Gantz said on Tuesday that it was improper that he and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi had not been informed of the deal beforehand. “Working under conditions of reciprocal transparency is a condition meant to serve the citizens of Israel, not the prime minister,” he said.
Gantz is playing the innocent. This is not a problem of transparency or of appropriate governance. Netanyahu is behaving as a sole ruler, making decisions on his own and acting as he sees fit even on critical matters. As far as he’s concerned, cabinet members are lightweight extras in a play in which he is the protagonist. This also includes ministers with imposing titles such as “Alternate Prime Minister”, “Minister of Defense” or “Foreign Minister.”
Israel has become a state in which a single person is conducting covert talks with a foreign government, where a single individual formulates an agreement with that country, while excluding senior coalition partners from participating in making these fateful decisions. He is the only one giving interviews to a newspaper financed by his patron, declaring that he trusts no one, including his ministers of defense and foreign affairs. The reason he gives is his concern that they might talk loosely, with their associates releasing the news prematurely. In other words, no one counts except for him.
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However, Gantz and Ashkenazi should have no complaints. They knew exactly with whom they were forming a partnership. This has been a constant pattern. In the submarines affair, in which naval vessels were sold by Germany to Egypt, Netanyahu operated behind the backs of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and a chief of staff named Benny Gantz.
Gantz and Ashkenazi were repeatedly warned by their experienced associates from Kahol Lavan – mainly Yair Lapid and Ya’alon – that Netanyahu is a person who doesn’t keep his word, who seek only to consolidate his grip on power and ensure his survival in office, holding his interests above those of the state. That was why they promised the voters for an entire year that their goal would be to replace him. This is a mess they’ve cooked up all by themselves.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.