[Discussion] Israel in Crisis

A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel.

Well, it looks like the pot has finally boiled over in Israel. Yesterday, PM Netanyahu fired DM Gallant after he called for slow-rolling Netanyahu's changes to the judicial system, which themselves have caused months of continuous demonstrations and outrage. Soon after, citizens took to the streets and marched on the Knesset and the Supreme Court. President Herzog, former PMs Yair Lapid and Ehud Barak, and many others have called on Netanyahu to stop his attempted changes. The current Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who has been an outspoken, strong supporter of the changes, has said he will go along with any decision Netanyahu makes in this regard, while noting that "if everyone does what he feels like" the situation may lead to the destruction of Likud and the government itself.

Histadrut, the largest coalition of unions in the country, has called a general strike in opposition to Netanyahu and Likud's plans, which has since cascaded down to shutting outgoing flights from Ben Gurion Airport (since restarted), and closure of many functions at the Port of Haifa, the largest in the country. All the McDonalds have shut down, and the largest owner of malls has ordered their shutdown, again both in opposition to Likud. 24 mayors have announced a hunger strike starting today. Even the Israeli Embassy in Washington has closed in support of Histadrut's call for a general strike. Nurses, bank employees, the stock exchange, railways, universities, museums and more are shutting down today or Tuesday.

In a nutshell, Netanyahu has been evading criminal charges of various types for years, and after his career seemingly imploded several years and five elections ago, he was brought back to be the PM in late Dec 2022 by an extreme Right-wing coalition. Since then, he has attempted to trade favors to the extremists (my opinion there) in order to restructure the government (through changes to the laws; there is no written Constitution) in such a way that the Prime Minister would not only be immune to prosecution, but would have control over the Supreme Court, whose oversight duties over the PM and the Knesset would be greatly reduced. The first tranche of changes were passed by the Knesset last week. There would also be massive changes for citizen Arabs and Palestinians, downgrading them to below the rights of Jewish Israelis, while the Settlement movement would be expanded and more strongly supported. Previously, much of the Army leadership, ex-Mossad leaders and other security services have come down against the changes, with (IIRC) Shin Bet and some of the police forces supporting them.

This is the worst crisis in Israel's history. If Netanyahu persists - and while he has not spoken yet, he has such a troubled history that his Trumpian bulldog nature may lead him to continue this folly - the government and Likud will likely collapse, and the country might possibly see a period of at least civil unrest, with unpredictable results.

(My opinion here.)
Here's hoping he sees sense and won't destroy the State of Israel for his own corrupt benefit. Enough is enough. No one should be above the law, and Israel should retain what is left of its multi-cultural democracy and indeed strengthen it. This is a terrible time but it can still walk back from the brink. The next few days should show the direction it will move.

CNN's "Analysis" page has a lot of good background info to allow folks to get up to speed.

And now (Monday) Security Minister Ben Giver, part of Netanyahu's coalition, has called on Right-wing supporters to hit the streets in Jerusalem in counter-protest to the tens of thousands gathered against Netanyahu's moves. The Finance Minister also has called out his support for Netanyahu.

Now, while Netanyahu has not made an address as expected today, "sources" are saying the changes will be delayed until after the end of Pesach, which finishes on April 13 this year. I am doubtful that that will calm down his opponents.

It's all going.... well it's going.

What Many Americans Misunderstand About Israel’s Unrest (The Atlantic Paywall)

Israel's former leader says Netanyahu should either reform his coalition or resign

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he would postpone a vote on a controversial overhaul of the country's judiciary until after parliament returns from recess at the end of April.

The move follows three months of massive protests that escalated in recent days, with labor strikes disrupting hospitals and airports and some military reservists skipping their duties — collectively raising all kinds of security concerns.

Among the thousands of protesters was one of Netanyahu's predecessors: Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who served in the role from 2006 to 2009.

Olmert went on to spend over a year in jail on corruption charges, though he consistently has maintained his innocence. Netanyahu himself is currently on trial for three criminal cases alleging corruption — a large part of why his proposed judicial reforms are so controversial.

Olmert, who has led centrist parties in the past but says he's now retired from politics, is an outspoken opponent of Netanyahu. Last November an Israeli court found him guilty of defamation over remarks he had made about his successor the previous year. He continued his criticisms in a Tuesday interview with Morning Edition's Michel Martin.

Speaking from Tel Aviv, Olmert said that while Netanyahu was "forced to compromise temporarily" under significant pressure, the struggle was far from over.