Photo Credit: Amit Shabi / POOL
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, June 18, 2023.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced at the start of his Sunday morning cabinet meeting that he intends to advance the judicial reform as early as this week after the opposition had blown up the talks at the President’s residence over the election of MK representatives at the committee to appoint judges.

On Wednesday, after threatening that they’d blow up the talks if an opposition MK is not elected to serve on the committee, opposition MK Karine Elharrar (Yesh Atid) was elected, and opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz still blew up the talks.

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“What was proven last week was that Gantz and Lapid were playing a game,” Netanyahu told his ministers. “For three months, their representatives did not agree on the most minimal issues. Their goal was to draw out every amendment. This is why we will gather this week and begin practical steps in a measured and responsible manner.”

As I noted earlier today (Coalition Entertaining ‘One-Sided’ Judicial Reform, Haredim Place a Premium on Override Law), two bills are already on the Knesset plenum’s table since the winter session: the composition of the committee to appoint judges and the restrictions of the reasonability doctrine. The measured and responsible practical steps would be to submit them to a final vote and pass them, yes, this week.

Reporter Amit Segal points out that Netanyahu is likely to start passing smaller, individual components of the larger reform plan that are unlikely to relaunch major protests. There are a number of changes that are definitely within the wider national consensus that can be advanced.

Indeed, shortly after Netanyahu’s brave announcement, opposition leader Yair Lapid responded on Twitter: “If Netanyahu goes ahead with the coup d’état unilaterally as he has stated, he will find that he is the head of a government with less than half of the people of Israel, with less than half of the economy, less than half of the security and less than half of the Knesset.”

As I noted, 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.

He 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.

Do you want proof? Sure: the Government Press Office sent out, as it does every Sunday, a summary of the points the PM made during his opening remarks at his weekly cabinet meeting. I scrutinized it. The press release included:

  • Our first mission is to stop the nuclearization of Iran.
  • The second mission is the cost of living.
  • The third mission is the Arab sector (meaning the violence there – DI).
  • Next: Electronic ankle bracelets bill.
  • Next: using the Europe Asia Pipeline Co. as infrastructure for laying international fiber optic cables.
  • Next: extending the toll, high-speed Highway 6 by 22 kilometers northward.
  • Finally: Intel plans to invest $25 billion in a new plant in Kiryat Gat.

No mention of those brave declarations about moving on with the judicial reform – in the English language version of the press release. I took the statement from the Hebrew version that was run by the Channel 14 website.

Why wasn’t it mentioned for the benefit of the nice foreign correspondents out there? Because Netanyahu doesn’t want the news to spread out. He’s had enough.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.