The compromise agreement proposed by Haim Ramon to resolve the coalition crisis between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz is a letter of surrender. According to it, the authority of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn would be eviscerated in exchange for ostensibly carrying out next year’s planned rotation for prime minister. Essentially Ramon has given Gantz a recipe for self-abnegation; a recipe that might satisfy Ramon’s desire to take revenge on the prosecution and the courts, but not the interests of Gantz, his party or his voters.
Gantz must not agree to this. He must remember that he represents a certain public and is meant to fulfill the will of his voters. When Netanyahu makes Gantz bend, he is humiliating the hundreds of thousands of people who voted for him.
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According to the letter of surrender, the cabinet will be presented with five candidates for the position of state prosecutor, instead of just the name of Haifa District Attorney Amit Aisman, who was recommended by the selection committee; there will be a joint committee formed to select the next candidate for attorney general, rather than a selection committee; and the law on selecting judges would be amended so that eight of the nine members of the Judicial Appointments Committee will be needed to appoint a Supreme Court justice, rather than the current seven. In this way the committee’s two Likud members, Minister Miri Regev and lawmaker Osnat Mark, would have veto power over the selections. In addition, every dispute in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation would be brought to Netanyahu and Gantz to resolve.
Instead of supporting Nissenkorn, who is perceived in Likud as the one putting a spanner in the wheels of Netanyahu’s effort to evade trial, Gantz is agreeing to sacrifice him in exchange for the illusion that the rotation will take place as rescheduled by amending the law to cancel an automatic election if the state budget doesn’t pass. Naivete, or perhaps folly, has no limit.
It isn’t clear what Gantz was thinking when he chose Ramon for this mediation assignment. Didn’t he take into account that Ramon and Netanyahu have a common interest – to reengineer the Israeli justice system and make it vulnerable, weak and dependent on politicians? Or perhaps Gantz’s real goal is to just drag it out a few more months as defense minister?
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In any case this is additional proof that the coalition crisis has nothing to do with the real problems and needs of the State of Israel – not the coronavirus, the budget, or the economic calamity. The only issue on the agenda is entrenching Netanyahu’s rule and shielding him from the law.
Whether or not this compromise is accepted, the very fact that this is what Netanyahu, Gantz and Ramon are dealing with during these critical times is shameful. Gantz was elected by hundreds of thousands of voters who sought to strengthen the judicial system and put a prime minister charged with crimes on trial. Gantz has no public mandate to sign this letter of surrender.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.