Former Israeli Prime Minister cites Israel’s apartheid status as judicial reform bill is passed
Tens of thousands of Israelis have marched into Jerusalem following the passing of a controversial bill on Monday, which removes the Supreme Court’s power to declare the actions of government as ‘unreasonable’. The bill passed Monday in the Knesset despite over half of the Israeli parliament abstaining in protest.
The bill is widely seen as furthering the aims and doctrine of the far right members of the government coalition, who’s most senior representative - far right leader and now Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has made the passing of the bill a condition of his party’s continued support. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has resisted the mass protests against the bill which have clogged the streets of Israel’s capital for over 6 months - at which protesters have openly declared the bill a direct threat to Israel’s democracy and a bid to do away with the checks and balances of a modern society. Benjamin Netanyahu knows that if he should acquiesce to their demands, it will mean not only the collapse of his fragile coalition government, but his possible trial for a number of outstanding indictments in respect of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir declared the bill to be just the beginning of his plans to completely overhaul the judiciary.
An array of current and former senior Israeli Politicians have joined the US State Department in expressing their disquiet over the passing of the bill. Karine Jean-Pierre, the spokeswoman for the White House said after the bill was passed:
‘It is unfortunate that the vote today took place with the slimmest possible majority’
Reservists declare loss of trust
Thousands of military reservists have also been vocal in their condemnation of the bill, some even prepared to go on camera declaring that the bill represents the first steps towards a dictatorship. Their protest reached new unprecedented levels as in a letter, signed by 1,142 reservists including hundreds of pilots, declared that they would no longer volunteer for service in protest against the new law. The significance of this threat should be judged against the fact that over half of those sent into combat are drawn from the reservist community . Contents of the letter included the following controversial statement:
‘Legislation that allows the government to act in an extremely unreasonable manner will harm the security of the State of Israel, will cause a loss of trust and violate my consent to continue risking my life – and will lead, with deep sorrow and no choice, to a suspension of my volunteer reserve duty’
Netanyahu threatens to crack down on reservists
This act by the reservists, prompted the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to respond by making a public address in which he pledged to crack down on ‘no-shows’. He said:
‘The government won’t accept insubordination. The government will act against it and will take all necessary steps to ensure our security and our future’
Security Minister, Ben-Gvir added his voice and said:
‘refusing service was dangerous for the country
Former Prime Minister, Edurt Olmert says '’we are going into a civil war now’
Remarkably, many senior political figures have joined the street protests, including former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert who appeared on UK’s Channel 4 news and on Al Jazeera on Monday saying:
‘This is a very crucial moment, the like of which we never experienced in the whole history of the state of Israel. This is the first time that the government of Israel declared war on the people of Israel and on the state of Israel. Now thousands of people onto the streets in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem and the elite of the Israeli army units including hundreds of Israeli pilots announced from tomorrow morning, in fact from now, they will cease to volunteer to military service which is a major threat to the ability of the Israeli army to perform…this is a serious threat it has never happened before and we are going into a civil war now’
'..the majority of the people in Israel will just not want to live in an apartheid country, so they will fight against it'
Controversially, Olmert went on to openly acknowledge the legitimacy of the view by increasing numbers within the international community that Israel was fast becoming an apartheid state, which has no wish to establish peace with Palestine. He said:
‘This government is made up of the most extreme, messianic, radical, right-wing forces that are not prepared to try and make peace between Israel and the Palestinians and want to annex all the territories that are now occupied by the state of Israel and possibly to expel the Palestinian residents living in these territories. This is a threat to the moral foundations and the basis of which the state of Israel exists…We will be accused of having an apartheid government in the state of Israel…the majority of the people in Israel will just not want to live in an apartheid country, so they will fight against it. They will not give up. We will carry on this fight until we bring down a government which doesn’t want to make peace, which doesn’t want to have a democracy, which wants to keep the occupation and also possibly the suppression of the basic human rights of the Palestinians that live under the occupation of the state of Israel.’