Israel’s president has said Israel’s prime minister and government are endangering Israeli democracy by trying to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court and working to “silence the free media”.
In an unusual and noteworthy intervention, President Reuven Rivlin went public with his concerns this week, accusing Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition of “a continuous attempt to weaken the gatekeepers of the Israeli democracy”.
Rivlin is the latest Israeli statesman to worry aloud about the health of the country’s judicial and media independence, joining former prime minister Ehud Barak and former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon in describing what they see as “a dangerous shift”.
The president, himself a right-winger from Netanyahu’s own party, was speaking amid ongoing attempts by Netanyahu’s partners from the Jewish Home party to override the power of the Supreme Court in order to force through legislation the court deems unconstitutional.
In a speech in front of Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, Rivlin asked: “How can a threatened, conformist and toothless court be in the interest of the State of Israel, of Israeli democracy?”
Netanyahu, under pressure from several ongoing police investigations, has spent the past few months attacking the Israeli media, which Rivlin said was an attempt to “silence” it, adding: “In this climate, democracy means that the strong decides.”
Earlier on Monday, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said: “The supreme court is not supposed to intervene and tell us if it likes or doesn’t like a specific law. That is the job of the Knesset.”