Netanyahu’s Supreme Court ‘power grab’ means ‘Israel is in uncharted waters’: conservative

Alex Henderson

Alternet  /  April 10, 2023

In 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is drawing criticism not only from liberals and progressives, but also, from some conservatives. Netanyahu’s moves have set off mass protests, and opposition continued to grow when, in March, he fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (a member of the Likud Party).

In an April 10 column, Washington Post opinion writer and Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin is highly critical of a “much-diminished” Netanyahu’s recent “power grab” with the Israeli Supreme Court — a move that, she stresses, has been drawing condemnation from a variety of Israelis.

“Those observing dramatic events play out in Israel seem convinced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is setting a trap for his opposition — including the legions of protesters, who for months, took to the streets to protest the government’s planned and inaptly named ‘judicial reform,'” Rubin laments. “It’s actually a power grab that would make the national Supreme Court subordinate to the prime minister, allow the government to overrule the Court and insulate Netanyahu, still under criminal prosecution, from removal by the Court.”

Rubin argues, however, that some of the Israeli prime minister’s critics “fail to appreciate” that 2023’s Netanyahu is “not the Netanyahu of old, the keen political mind who could overwhelm opponents, bully his own allies and navigate international diplomacy while keeping himself in tune with domestic public opinion.”

“Talking to Israeli media, politicians and scholars over the past few weeks,” the Washington Post columnist notes, “I heard over and over again that this is a much-diminished Netanyahu — someone who entirely misread public opinion and failed to anticipate the broad coalition of opponents he was creating.”

Israeli, like other democracies, has its share of checks and balances. The prime minister, the Knesset (Israeli’s parliament) and the Israeli Supreme Court all have a role in that. And Netanyahu’s critics have been arguing that his “judicial reform” campaign is an attack on the role that Israeli’s High Court plays in maintaining checks and balances in that country.

Rubin explains, “(Netanyahu) has never faced such a diverse and engaged popular uprising that embraces religious and secular Jews, intellectuals, members of the military, young people and the business community, which fears he will poison the well of the start-up economy he was instrumental in creating…. A diminished Netanyahu finds himself on the defensive against an Israeli public roused to action for democratic principles as never before. Netanyahu’s past offers little predictive power as to the outcome of this standoff. Israel is in uncharted waters.”