“Dragged” is how Amit Segal [an Israeli Journalist] described the Prime Minister in his article, as though he had been kidnapped by aliens and forced to act against his will. It’s time to internalize: Netanyahu’s actions are considered and measured. As far as he’s concerned, the state is him and he is the state and he’ll try to evade his trial even at the cost of the disintegration of the state. Without him, after all - the state has no right to exist.
Yuval Diskin, August 9, 2023
Amit Segal’s article last weekend in Yedioth Ahronot newspaper seems to reflect a process of disillusionment among supporters of the legal reform. However, as time passed, I found myself shocked by both the article’s headline and its contents.
“Dragged”, the article said about Netanyahu, as though he had been kidnapped by sophisticated aliens who had taken control of his genetic code and were activating it against his will. There is no greater deception than that being sold to the public by Segal.
Netanyahu formed this nightmarish coalition with his own hands. He carries sole responsibility for the shameful face of the Likud party in the Knesset. Netanyahu is the one who put together racist and Kahanist Ben-Gvir, nationalist Smotrich who supports Jewish supremacy, and the homophobic and misogynistic “Noam” party – into one party. He is the one who brought the separatist, draft-dodging, non-Zionist, and ultra-Orthodox of all types into the coalition, and he is the one who’s allowed them to loot the public coffers for their sectoral needs. Netanyahu is the one who created and signed the coalition agreements that established the most extreme, immoral, and above all – harmful and dangerous coalition in the history of the country.
The accused knew and still knows what he is doing at any given moment. He’s done it through a deep survival instinct that guides him to remain Prime Minister at any cost. Why? Because as Prime Minister, he is in a position of absolute influence over obtaining the ultimate tools that can safely rescue him from his trial. He is motivated by the legal risks he is facing, and all his activities are directed toward evading them.
The “judicial reform” is built first and foremost to overcome Netanyahu’s legal risks:
Prevent his compelled leave of absence by the Attorney General due to a conflict of interest related to his trial.
Avoid conviction on the charges that might lead to his imprisonment.
Avoid “disgrace” resulting from either the verdict in his trial or as a result of a plea bargain.
As far as Netanyahu is concerned, in order to evade these legal risks, he has to:
Weaken the supervision of governmental decisions by the judiciary branch (the Supreme Court) as much as possible. (In order to do this, the amendment to the Basic Law: The Judiciary was passed, and the standard of extreme unreasonableness over governmental and ministerial decisions annulled.)
Dramatically weaken the power of the Attorney General, first and foremost by removing her ability to compel him to take a leave of absence, e.g., for a conflict of interest. (For this purpose, amendment number 12 to the Basic Law: Government was enacted.)
Change the essence of the Supreme Court by changing its composition and appointing judges favorable to the coalition. (For this purpose, he must change the balance of power in the Judicial Selection Committee: enactment of the Basic Law: Judiciary, the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee, has already been approved for second and final third vote).
Gain funds to finance his long and expensive trial. For this purpose, he needs donations from private individuals, and if the norms and law need to be changed for this purpose – then that’s what will be done (the amendment to the Public Service Law [gifts] approved for second and final third vote).
In addition to these legal tools, Netanyahu must continue to maintain a good relationship with President Herzog, as in certain scenarios he might need a pardon.
Why does Netanyahu so desperately need a constitutional crisis?
There is no reasonable Prime Minister, one who is not accused of criminality and is in a situation of strategic conflict of interest with the good of the country, who would not apply immediate national emergency brakes if the following scenarios were known to him:
The rift in the nation is extremely serious and brings us closer every day to separation, and perhaps to the brink of a civil/fraternal war.
The people’s army and the reserves forces are crumbling. The army has already reached the “red line” in terms of its critical reservist forces, and this fact is well-known to Netanyahu.
A constitutional crisis will result in an additional dramatic suspension in the reserves forces, which will degrade the army below the red line. This would be a failure at the level of, and even surpassing the 1973 Yom Kippur failure. The sole responsibility for this will fall on Netanyahu, who is aware of all the data – and all the “red flags” have been presented to him.
The economy is severely losing momentum, the high-tech industry has been badly damaged, and the country’s credit rating is expected to drop in light of the defendant’s lies to the credit rating agencies.
The health system is cracking further every day. There are many signs that doctors are leaving the country.
So why does Netanyahu, an undoubtedly intelligent person, do nothing? It’s because his legal rescue plan is the most important thing to him. In addition, from his point of view and in the immortal words of his wife Sara in 2002, “let the country burn”. Obtaining all the legal tools which I listed above will very much improve his situation, but he’ll still need the X-factor in the form of a constitutional crisis. The minute he and his followers refuse to obey the Supreme Court because in their opinion it has strayed from its authority when reviewing and ruling on the legality of a Basic Law enacted by the Knesset, Netanyahu will be able to permanently de-legitimize the legal system and claim to his followers that the courts have no authority to judge him.
Netanyahu is not being dragged. He is guided. He is a guided missile on his own behalf, motivated mainly by egocentric-survival considerations of escaping his trial at the cost of a rift in the people, disbandment of the people’s army, and disintegration of the state. Just like that.
It is time to internalize what everyone who knows Netanyahu well understands: In his eyes the state is him and he is the state – therefore, without him, the state has no right to exist. He is a guided missile on a trajectory to destroy it.
Yuval Diskin is a former head of Israel Security Agency (Shabak)
Contributed by Yuval Diskin to USA for Israeli Democracy