P M Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday morning told that he saw no alternative but to halt their legislative whirlwind that would emasculate Israel’s judicial system, Otzma Yehudit’s far-right leader Itamar Ben Gvir would have been the fiercest opponent.”We’re letting the anarchists win,” protested Ben Gvir (using the coalition leaders’ favourite term for defenders of our democracy), according to an unconfirmed report of the talk, quoted by Channel 12 News.”We will not let them win,” reportedly retorted Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the religious Zionist party. “We’re just going to put the bill on hold for a few months.”At this point, Justice Minister Yariv Levin is said to have concluded: “You are fine, but we must be wise. We will pass the law later, but not now. We have people in the Likud who are against it; I’m not sure we would have 61. People want reforms, and they will get them, but you also have to look at what is happening outside; it cannot be ignored.
These exchanges help underscore why, when Netanyahu told the nation Monday night he would suspend legislation for several weeks, his stated willingness to do so “out of national responsibility, out of a desire to avoid a split in the nation” was Protest leaders immediately dismissed it as empty rhetoric and opposition leader Yair Lapid has warned that Netanyahu could be up to his old tricks. Finally, in the three months since he unveiled his plans to hand near-absolute power to the coalition and leave Israelis’ most basic rights unprotected, Levin has repeatedly vowed that his “reforms” would not be “stopped for a minute ‘ and reportedly threatened to resign if the push to enact it was halted. Also last Thursday, the prime minister insisted that no dissent “endangers our common future,” a key element of his attack on democratization. The Knesset will adopt the bill giving the coalition control over the appointment of judges this week. What prompted Netanyahu to generously announce the temporary suspension of this bill and other legislation in the works on Monday night and Levin to pass it during today’s coalition meeting?
The simple fact, as the Attorney General would concede, is that although they led a 64-seat coalition in the Knesset that has 120 seats, they were no longer confident that they had voted for an absolute majority – technically not required to pass an electoral law of judges for whom a simple majority but the main trump card is to defend destructive legislation against a still functioning and independent Supreme Court. What has changed since last Thursday is that Netanyahu fired his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, for having the audacity to privately and then publicly warn that the national division over coalition efforts, the way Israel is governed, deepening the dissent within the ranks of the army to the point that it is a “clear, imminent and palpable threat to the security of the state”.The resignation of the defence minister on Sunday night, in turn, sparked a spontaneous nationwide uprising.
These angry protests raged for hours among the growing crowds of citizens who saw Gallant’s violent resignation as further evidence that Netanyahu continued to put personal and political interests above the grassroots. State needs. And those protests, in turn, eventually prompted a handful of Likud politicians to air their concerns publicly—not, God forbid, the content of the Netanyahu-Levin legislation, but the way it is spreading in Parliament at such a rate and brutality. Opinion polls show that the public is gradually becoming more and more alienated.