Bibi Already Got What He Wanted

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by blueapples
Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 - 2:36

Following mass demonstrations across the whole of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to budge. In the wake of that unrest, Netanyahu announced a cessation to his plans to reform the nation's judiciary, albeit a temporary one. Previously, Netanyahu's defiance seemed limitless as he went as far as firing the Defense Minister of Israel for voicing his opposition to the judicial restructuring. Now, the prime minister has tabled discussions for the reforms until the next session of the Knesset convenes. However, a law passed by the Knesset during the current cession may provide Netanyahu with the means he needs to see his reform plan through.

While backing off of the controversial judicial reforms may be seen as a chink in the armor of Netanyahu that was once thought to be impermeable, a deeper examination into the recent on-goings in the Knesset proves the contrary. Veiled beneath the spectacle of civil unrest, Israel's legislature recently passed a law which dramatically limits the circumstances in which the nation's prime minister can be deposed. The new law may further insulate the embattled prime minister who only just reclaimed his title for the sixth time following an ouster not even two years ago. With that new law on the books, Netanyahu has made a successive attempt for his opponents to remove him from office further from reach.

The passage of this law further embeds Netanyahu into his seat at the head of Israel's government, providing him the leverage he will need to dig his heels further into the ground in the inevitable event that the prime minister begins to advance his sought after judicial reforms once again. Although Israel has no formal constitution, the nation's supreme court ruled that the Basic Laws of Israel are to be treated as constitutional rights under the 1995 decision in the case of United Mizrahi Bank v. Migdal Cooperative Village. The precedent set by the nation's highest court provided Netanyahu's ruling coalition with a means to implement their strategy to further protect him. By amending the nation's basic laws with guidance on what is necessary to deem the prime minister unfit to hold office, the Knesset legislation has limited the ability of Netanyahu's opposition to remove him from office.

The legislation was passed by the Knesset by a vote of 61 to 47. In doing so, the conditions required to deem the Prime Minister of Israel to be unfit for the office and thus compelled to step down will require either the majority of the Knesset or three-fourths of the incumbents cabinet minister to declare the office holder either physically or psychologically incapable of performing the duties of their position.

Previously, the threat of Netanyahu's deposition loomed amidst not only the controversial judicial reforms which sent masses of Israelis into the streets of Tel Aviv but also in the wake of three pending corruption cases against the prime minister. The corruption charges Netanyahu faces offered fodder for his opponents to remove him from office. His critics also assert that the charges have served as motivation for Netanyahu to attempt to put Israel's judiciary firmly into his iron fisted rule as a means to absolve him of any legal consequences that could bring his sixth term in office to an abrupt end.

While Netanyahu's ruling coalition has firmly entrenched themselves behind their iconoclastic leader by ratifying the new basic law, residual leadership from his predecessor's administration have apparently become a perceived threat against them. The Attorney General of Israel Gali Baharav-Miara was appointed to the office by the centrist ruling coalition that was replaced in the Knesset by what critics describe as one of the most radical, fundamentalist governments in the world. The attorney general's office voiced its concern over the newly passed law. According to Deputy Attorney General of Israel Gil Limon "They have the potential to serve the personal interests of a man regarding the outcomes of legal proceedings he is facing."

Netayahu's opposition in Israel's government isn't the only proponent of the rally against his political maneuvering to prevent his dispensation. A non-profit organization named the Movement For Quality Government In Israel filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of Israel appealing the Knesset law aimed at protecting Netanyahu. The group characterized the actions of the Knesset as malevolent, stating "Netanyahu and his coalition of corrupt men are trying every possible maneuver in their attempts to escape the threat of justice[.]"

Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases. Under existing law in Israel, a prime minister is not required to resign in the event of a pending criminal case against them. Ironically, Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu's predecessor in 2008 stepped down as the head of Israel's ruling party when he was under investigation for corruption, giving Netanyahu the political momentum he needed to be elected.

While protesters mark an occasion in which they appear to emerge victorious against Netanyahu, their assumed victory may prove to be tenuous at best. With a framework in place to shield Netanyahu enough to resume his push for a judicial overhaul once the opportunity presents itself, Israel's political turmoil appears to be far from over. Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister and a prominent supporter of the opposition to Netanyahu summarized the precarious position his nation finds itself at this cross roads, stating “Either Israel will be a Jewish, democratic and progressive state or religious, totalitarian, failing, isolated and closed off."

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