Ongoing Israeli Protests: Netanyahu Sinking in Self-made Swamp
Story Code : 1048011
It is yet to be three months since Netanyahu formed his far-right government, but waves of protests expanded to all political and security parts, making things tough for the PM and his radical allies.
With the help of the security forces and especially the army, Netanyahu planned to suppress his opponents and save the shaky cabinet from collapsing, but these days the army forces have lined up in front of him, too.
In the latest development, on Friday, hundreds of retired navy sailors reached the occupied Caesarea town by boat and even swimming, and by besieging Netanyahu’s house, they joined the continuous protests.
Demonstrations even broadened since last week after the Knesset initially approved the controversial judicial reform bill. On trial for years on charges of corruption, bribery, and breach of trust, Netanyahu struggles to escape from trial with the judicial overhaul, and the main reason for the protests since two months ago was this controversial plan. Under the proposed bill, the powers of the judicial system will be curtailed and the power and position of the executive and legislative bodies will be increased. Israelis believe that Netanyahu’s radical cabinet is moving towards dictatorship with controversial plans and threatens the alleged democracy in the occupied territories.
Netanyahu and the hardliners of the cabinet are trying to solidify their legal power with the bill, but their plans delivered the reverse as citizens demonstrated impairment of the judiciary. Opposition asserted that they remain protesting in the streets and escalate the challenge of the government until its collapse. Last week, for the first time, over 300,000 people protest against Netanyahu across the occupied territories.
Gaps in military; warning of civil war
What these days is worrisome for Netanyahu’s government is the mutiny of the military that is defying the cabinet officials. The siege of Netanyahu’s house by veterans shows that the protests have extended to his residence and he is afraid to leave his house. In recent weeks, Hebrew-language media have repeatedly published news suggesting that disobedience among the army forces is growing more and more widespread. The escape of soldiers and officers from the barracks, calls by the army generals for people to join the protests, and the pilots and flight attendants’ refusal to staff Netanyahu’s plane to foreign countries all confirm that the PM and the hardliners around him are left alone, and they cannot easily advance their ambitious and controversial plans from now on.
Military personnel protests started when recently air force reserve pilots were recalled for joint exercises but rejected to show up for duty. Following the mutiny of reservists, the Israeli army chief and defense ministers recently warned the PM about a rebellion in various parts of the military, arguing that it would challenge the military’s capability to do its duty.
The joining of the military to the growing wave of protests against Netanyahu’s cabinet is considered as a dangerous internal challenge. The expansion of the scope of protests takes place while the Israeli President Isaac Herzog has repeatedly cautioned against a civil war and asked the party leaders to resolve their differences and prevent destabilization of the occupied territories.
“I’m afraid there will be a civil war here. I believe that no one wants it, but the deterioration is on a negative slope and the danger of its occurance is increasing. These are not tongue-in-cheek words, these are not prophanies of wrath. I live within my people and I see how we are falling apart-and there is no responsible adult in the government to restore and stop,” said former Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a Twitter post on Saturday.
Also, former Shabak chief said that Netanyahu’s cabinet was dragging Israeli regime to the edge.
Recently, in response to the protests, rebellion and defiance by the soldiers, Netanyahu himself warned that these types of actions threatened the “vital foundations of Israel” and that this practice will quickly spread to the entire system. The PM issues his warnings about the situation while he and his party members are responsible for the predicament Tel Aviv is experiencing and instead of settling it, he fuels it with controversial plans.
The deepening divisions among the armed forces comes while Netanyahu claimed during the vote of confidence in his cabinet that confronting Iran was at the top of his government’s plans and even put the plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities back on the table. These delusional actions were supposed to be carried out by a united military which is now seeking to overthrow Netanyahu himself. Thus, as long as there is no compliant military, any Netanyahu military adventures abroad will be fundamentally challenged and fail before it even begins.
Despite a powerful and obedient military, Netanyahu lost wars he waged against Gaza resistance groups in recent years, and, indeed, he will be dealt even heavier blows with his armed forces now weaker than before. Netanyahu has always claimed that the air force is the superior force in the region and boasted about it, but it seems that this army is going through its decline and the Israelis can no longer rely on their military forces to deal with the resistance groups in Palestine. Israeli military circles believe that the military’s conditions are dire because of numerous decisions made by its leaders in recent years and that its forces do not have a significant level of readiness.
In addition to political and security issues, economy is another area being negatively affected. In recent days, news reports talked about $80 billion foreign capital fleeing the Israeli economy, and 255 American Jewish capitalists have threatened that if Netanyahu cabinet continues to reform the judicial system, they will halt investments that amount to tens of billions of dollars and this can push Netanyahu to the wall.
Allies betraying Netanyahu
Netanyahu has several times said that he had a big role in the US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal and normalization process with some Arab states. By such claims, he sought to gain credit and show off his position and power to home and to Tel Aviv’s foreign backers. But now the White House and the Arab leaders ignore him. He recently claimed that the US financially supports protests against his government and last week banned the government officials from any talks with the Americans. He even denied EU officials, including Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell, visas for travel to the Israeli regime.
Netanyahu government’s confrontation with the Western countries indicates that he lacks legitimacy not only at home but also abroad. In recent months, he bent over backwards to lure Saudi Arabia into normalization process, but to his frustration, the Saudis reconciled with rival Iran instead. Actually, with the recent China-brokered Saudi-Iranian agreement, the normalization fell into a coma, tightening the political and security noose on Netanyahu. The UAE, which in recent years has been subservient to the Israelis, has now suspended its cooperation with Israeli regime, and this is not good news for the PM who is left incapable in all aspects.
The massive waves of public protests and mutiny of the army commanders are driving Netanyahu’s government to collapse. The PM and the hardliners press to save their shaky cabinet from collapse at least as long as the parliament has not approved the judicial overhaul bill since the snowballing protests will not allow far-right to complete their four-year term in power and the upcoming weeks will be decisive to Netanyahu and the occupied territories.