Anyone for whom the one-year term of the government of change sufficed to make them forget what it sought to change, or what managed to join leftists, nonreligious Jews, Arabs and LGBT people from Tel Aviv with rightists, religious Jews and settlers, received a great reminder this week.
“If the attorney general authorizes the caretaker government to appoint the next IDF chief of staff, she will be replaced immediately when we return to power,” Likud MK Yoav Kisch threatened Gali Baharav-Miara on Twitter.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar tweeted in response that this was “gangsterism,” an apt definition of Bibi-ism: not an ideological movement, but rather a hierarchical organization that requires its members to devote all their efforts, and subordinate all government resources and institutions, to the personal interests of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kisch can’t be suspected of acting on his own. He’s only the messenger. Nor should one be impressed by the repudiation of his remarks by “Netanyahu’s inner circle.” That’s how it works: threaten and deny.
The backstory is the release of a statement on behalf of Defense Minister Benny Gantz quoting the ministry’s legal adviser as saying that he sees no bar to appointing a new chief of staff during the pre-election period. It followed Baharav-Miara’s saying in June that a caretaker government may appoint a chief of staff during an election campaign only if it is vitally necessary, but added that the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser would review the matter and only then submit it to her for a decision. According to most assessments, Gantz wants Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi for the position.
On the level of principle, it is better not to take steps such as appointing a new chief of staff during an election period. But the schedule necessitates moving up the appointment, since the election is in November and Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi leaves January 1. That leaves insufficient time for preparations and the handover to the new chief of staff. In addition, there is a very good chance that a new government will not be formed immediately after the election and Israel could find itself without a permanent prime minister and without a chief of staff.
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This is a pattern that characterizes Bibi-ism: After not hesitating to send Israel into a cycle of elections in an attempt to evade justice, to incite against the police, the legal system and the attorney general; to hold the state budget hostage to prevent the prime ministerial rotation and to leave the police without a commissioner for about two years – now the agent of chaos Netanyahu aspires to leave the IDF without a chief of staff.
One can only hope that Baharav-Miara will not cave to threats and will base her decision on her professional discretion. The onslaught of Netanyahu’s loyalists just proves the supreme importance of appointing a strong and independent chief of staff who will not feel the need to take part in the cult of personality surrounding Netanyahu.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.