Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
MK Keti Shitrit, May 23, 2022.

Likud MK Ketty Shitrit, who represented the coalition parties at the now-dispersed talks at the president’s residence, said tearfully on Friday: “When I received the assignment, I thought I was going to fix something in this nation, for real. That the fights would finally stop, all these bad things – they (the anarchists) were going to murder one of my friends.”

Meanwhile, according to Reshet Bet radio, Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said last week in a closed conversation that he expects the enactment of the override clause of the judicial reform. “We will not give up on the override clause,” Gafni insisted.


In case you just joined our program, let’s review: The opposition walked out on the negotiations on Wednesday. They had threatened to walk out if one of the MKs in the committee to appoint judges is not a member of the opposition. Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar was elected, but they walked anyway after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeing that he could not guarantee the vote for a coalition MK, suspended the procedure for a month.

On Wednesday night, National Union Chairman Benny Gantz issued the following joint statement with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid: “What happened here today is that the prime minister decided to go against the state. In five words: Benjamin Netanyahu against the State of Israel (it’s 5 in Hebrew – DI). He tried and failed. I congratulate the responsible Knesset members who made the right choice. … I am troubled because Netanyahu collapsed.”

Before the start of the negotiations in his residence, President Yitzhak Herzog warned that he would name the culprit should one of the sides blow up the talks. What do you know, he didn’t. It’s been four days. Crickets.

Ketty Shitrit told Reshet Bet Radio on Sunday that despite her sadness, she had been a fool to trust that Gantz and Lapid were truly interested in coming up with agreements on a practical set of reforms that all the sides would uphold. She said that her recommendation to her party is to go back to the slow and painstaking process of “one-sided” legislation and pass it, bill after bill, relying on those elusive 64 votes that were not enough to elect Netanyahu’s choice opposition MK to the committee.

The fact is two bills are already on the plenum’s table since the winter session: the composition of the committee to appoint judges and the restrictions of the reasonability doctrine. If the votes are there, as Shitrit and others in the coalition believe, then go for it.

It won’t happen, of course, because PM Netanyahu won’t let it. The last thing Netanyahu wants is a repeat of the violent mob protests, in cahoots with pilots, reservists, bankers, hi-tech moguls, and the national trade union. In Israel’s democracy, the fact that this mob represents only 46 Knesset mandates on a very good day is meaningless. They are prepared to burn down the country – and that is their mandate. It could be said that Netanyahu is less afraid of Iran than he is of the country’s elites and their extremely well-funded, organized, and dedicated crowds of protesters.

Netanyahu promised the credit rating companies there would not be a repeat of mayhem in the streets that scares off investors. He understands economics, he understands mob psychology, and he understands he can’t win this one.

But Netanyahu is not the mighty ruler he used to be. There are cracks in his dominion over the Likud party, and there are even bigger cracks in his ability to scare his coalition partners. This, by the way, is why Netanyahu decided to shut down the selection of MKs to the committee to appoint judges: the coalition representation was promised to Otzma Yehudit in the coalition agreements. When Likud MK Tali Gottlieb broke rank and announced her candidacy, Netanyahu screamed at her that in all his years in the Knesset, he had never seen anyone defy coalition discipline as she had done (he had, more than once). But Netanyahu didn’t fear only Gottlieb – he feared his members who would vote for her in defiance of his leadership.

And now, MK Gafni, representing one of the five legs of the coalition, is demanding the override clause. He needs it to be able to ignore a Supreme Court decision that would annul a draft bill with special allowance for Haredi young men. And unlike other coalition member parties, UTJ would not be in political danger should it decide to leave the government for the sake of defending Haredim from serving in the IDF. If that’s the one move on which they run in the next election, they are in no danger of losing – they could only add a mandate.

Netanyahu’s solution for all of the above is going to be procrastination. It’s his favorite tool in the toolbox: delay, postpone, ask the court for more time – anything to avoid giving the mobs another reason to paralyze the country.

They were out on Kaplan Street for the 24th Saturday night in a row, but their lines had clearly thinned out. The supportive mainstream media reported “101,000” demonstrators. But if you watched the video reports you could tell it was 30,000 tops. Netanyahu knows the protests are diminishing. Come July 1, many affluent Israelis, the folks who bring their Israeli flags to Kaplan Street, will be in Europe and the US on their well-earned summer vacations. This is not the time Bibi wants to poke the bear. He wants the bear sleepy.

Of course, having written all the above, on Sunday morning Netanyahu announced that the government will begin taking concrete steps this week to start fixing the judicial system. According to reporter Amit Segal, Netanyahu believes that working on some of the smaller individual reforms won’t reactivate the protesters.


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