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Hail to the Chief, Hail President Netanyahu

I find myself in something of a dilemma, I assume that I am not the only one in Israel facing this quandary?

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein suspension of Israel's Parliament the other day, took me rather by surprises as I am sure it did others. But I truth, I did not give it much thought. I followed yesterday's news reports regarding the stream of slow-moving cars with their black flags making their way to Jerusalem. And followed the response by the police.

Yesterday, writing in the Haaretz newspaper, Yossi Verter referred to The Plot to Paralyze Israel's Parliament concluding that “Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein could have stood up to Netanyahu’s henchmen. Instead, he humiliated himself and let Israeli democracy take an unprecedented blow.”

I read the analysis with interest, however, it was only this morning when reading The Times of Israel piece about three Likud ministers; Yariv Levin, Ze’ev Elkin and David Amsalem urging for the new regulations Netanyahu announced last night restricting Israelis’ movements and regulating attendance at workplaces be extended to include the Knesset. Their appeal was eventually rejected but was there some far more sinister going on here?

Lat night, Netanyahu said in a televised statement from his office said “Yesterday I asked you to listen to the Health Ministry directives and stay at home,” [While many Israelis had heeded the call, others had not, and so the directives would now become mandatory.] “The government will approve emergency ordinances tonight to limit movement. This isn’t a request, this isn’t a recommendation, but a binding requirement that will be enforced,” he concluded.

So we have the government issuing emergency ordinances requiring people not to leave home unless necessary; with the ordinance initially in effect for seven days. What happens after seven days? It’s plain to see that the coronavirus will be this next week, so will the ordinance be extended for a further seven days, or maybe for 14 days, maybe 28 days? Will the government move from emergency ordinances to full curfew, with tanks and troops on the streets, “habeas corpus” suspended to prevent any violence in case of agitation by the citizens of Israel against the imposition of Martial Law? Would the army, in fact, support Martial Law?

Last night on hearing Netanyahu make his announcement, I was both uplifted by his drive to win this war but also concerned about the future direction the country could move in as this highly flexible situation develops.

This morning on reading Yossi Verter’s analysis piece in Haaretz “How to Stop Netanyahu From Destroying What's Left of Israel's Democracy” thoughts returned to a theme I had written about a year ago in a Facebook posting, and have subsequently mentioned on this site a couple of times. The Facebook posting drew several aggressive, threatening responses which eventual lead me to delete my Facebook account and set up this site.

I had suggested that Netanyahu would take a page from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sing book, (Vladimir Putin appears to have done the same in Russia) force some sort of constitutional crises and in short, order assume executive powers. My notion has been poo-pooed as being outlandish, particularly as Israel does not have a constitution and that neither the police or army would support such a move.

And yet, the current coronavirus outbreak does offer Netanyahu the opportunity to move, with the backing of certain members of his rightwing block, and assume provisionally executive powers which, he could consolidate in the future.

Far fetched, maybe, likely to happen, who knows.

The point is that governments often move slowly at first, step-by-step, as they introduce ever more sweeping powers.

Will, we see next a dusk to dawn curfew? Will that curfew be enforced by the police, troops on the streets? Will habeas corpus be suspended, the courts closed, the Knesset closed, government by decree? Will we see a President Netanyahu with all-encompassing executive powers?

Yossi Verter refers in his analysis today to Yair Netanyahu and the young Netanyahu’s reference to George Orwell’s novel 1984 and the suggestion (from Yair) that we read the novel and compare Israel 2019 to the novel.



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