Last night at midnight was the deadline for Binyamin Netanyahu to inform President Herzog that in accordance with the mandate he was given, he has been able to form a government.
He placed that all-important call just 18 minutes before the deadline.
Then he tweeted: ala b’yadi, which means “it came into my hands” – I have succeeded.
We’ve got a way to go yet. Legislation is in process, final coalition agreements are yet to be signed with Shas and the UTJ factions. I will be writing about the process as it continues to unfold. But it’s a done deal. Swearing-in must take place within seven days after the end of Chanukah, which is January 2.
With every passing day, my conviction regarding the importance of this new government increases.
Problems of an exceedingly serious nature – problems that have festered for years – are now being dramatically exposed. Those of us who have worked with the issues are hardly surprised, but certainly pleased that they are now out in the open. This exposure helps pave the way for needed reforms.
A prime example:
“A confidential document composed by the European Union’s mission in eastern Jerusalem and obtained by JNS shows that Brussels is actively working with and on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to take over Area C of Judea and Samaria, with the overall objective of integrating the region with Areas A and B.
“’The European Union is committed to contribute to building a Palestinian State within 1967 borders and mobilize to this purpose its political and financial tools,’ the document begins.”
See the EU flag over an illegal building. Nothing discreet about what they are doing. Regavim, which fights the good fight on this issue, has been aware of the situation for at least 10 years. But now it’s more blatant. The EU is proud of fostering illegal building in Area C, in Judaea & Samaria, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Israel according to Oslo. They provide funds and advice to the PA.
See the blue EU flag on this illegal PA building in Area C.
I cited Regavim recently, which reported that illegal building in Area C increased by 80% in the last year, that is, under the outgoing government.
Now it’s time for MK Bezalel Smotrich to do his level best to halt this as part of what we hope will be his newly granted civil jurisdiction in Area C.
Here I want to take a moment to cite Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall.
A group tour of the Western Wall for ambassadors had been organized last week. When the EU ordered member states not to participate in any Israeli-hosted tour in eastern Jerusalem, representatives of four countries pulled out: Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Moldova (a candidate for membership).
Rabbi Rabinovitch then put out an open letter, which read in part (emphasis added):
“Your decision to ‘avoid’ the tour was a resounding victory for evil, a deeply upsetting choice.
“The Jewish nation does not need anyone’s approval for its eternal connection with Jerusalem and the Western Wall. This is a bond of thousands of years that was shaped by the love of a nation for its God and forged through the fire of destruction.
“It is a bond that is validated every single day by unusual archaeological findings from the days of ancient kings of Judah, discovered in the earth of Jerusalem. Had you joined the tour, you would have seen them yourself.”
Right on, Rabbi. This should be the model for every Israeli, and I trust it will be for our new government.
Speaking of antiquities:
In recent days, dozens of Palestinian Arabs descended upon Samaria National Park, located in Area C, to carry out what they said was “repair work.” In point of fact, they deliberately destroyed antiquities, something they are fond of doing in their attempt to erase Jewish heritage in the land. They did irreparable damage.
Samaria National Park contains important historical remnants from the First Temple Era, believed to be from the time of King Ahab of Israel.
The Arabs built a giant flagpole right next to the ruins, on which they hoisted a PLO flag.
Another deeply disturbing report surfaced last week, aired by Kan Reshet Bet (emphasis added):
It revealed that “outgoing Public Security Minister Omer Barlev overruled the Prison Service in August, refusing to accede to their request to transfer security prisoners to different wings, even though prison regulations require such transfers to occur in order to reduce the likelihood of prison breakouts.”
In late August, a meeting of a number of security groups was held to discuss the threats had been made by security prisoners that they would go on hunger strike if the transfers were implemented.
A reporter for Kan News who revealed what took place at this meeting; he described how “the prisoners were running the prisons”…and that whenever prisoners confronted the authorities, it was the authorities that ended up backing down.
“The head of the Prison Service’s intelligence division admitted during the meeting that in the past half year, no prisoner transfers had occurred between wings….’Nothing’s been done since. In 2019, there was a hunger strike among prisoners after we limited their phone access, and it only ended after the Shabak was brought in. But since then, one might say that their protests have succeeded.’”
This is beyond shameful. Bring in Itamar Ben Gvir. If he is falsely accused of being a racist because he will be tough on terrorists, so be it. It’s time for a huge change.
Joel Golovensky, a lawyer and founder of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, wrote yesterday about the fear that is prevalent on the left that Israeli democracy is at risk with this new government. Succinctly and effectively, he addressed anxiety about reform in the judicial system (emphasis added):
“Only ideologues and elite power centers on the Left…deny the need for major reform in our system of justice. The courts concocted a ‘legal revolution’ (former president Barak’s description), and since then have actively dominated our governance and lives.
“The Supreme Court substitutes its judgment for that of the government and cancels any government action it doesn’t consider ‘reasonable.’ The court substitutes its judgment for that of the elected Knesset…
“Our prosecutors use coercion and blackmail to elicit and influence testimony. Our police cannot control street crime, organized crime, public lawlessness, nor even insurrection in our cities.“
The government’s legal adviser, the attorney-general, does not advise: He/she dictates precisely what the government can and cannot do – once again, under the arbitrary authority imposed by the Supreme Court…
Much reform is needed to give Israel a balanced government that can govern effectively…There is no basis for concluding that the new government and the Knesset will act irresponsibly in effecting the reform. Neither judges nor media talking heads have a monopoly on fidelity to democratic principles or on common sense.
Several elements within the new government will be seeking judicial reform. Likud has included the Over-ride clause in agreements with other factions, but with vague wording.
And if we are to look at the need for judicial reform, it is important to look at the judicial sanction of torture in the case of Amiram Ben Uliel, who was convicted of the 2015 Duma arson attack. His confession came after he had been severely tortured, physically and psychologically, by the Shin Bet. Such torture is illegal except in the case of a “smoking gun,” a terrorist who has information regarding a pending attack. Amiram had no such information.
Subsequently he retracted his confession. After he was convicted and sentenced to three life terms, he appealed because of the torture. The court ruled that the conviction could stand because 17 hours elapsed between his last bout of torture and his confession – so he had time to recover from the torture. Seventeen hours? Were they serious? He will need 17 months, and a good deal more, to recover from has been done to him. And in fact later the Court admitted that only two days had elapsed but the conviction would be upheld.
Now Amiram’s attorneys are seeking another appeal hearing, with a larger panel of judges (there is no jury trial in Israel). There has been no decision handed down on this yet.
This Tuesday, Amiram’s lawyer, Menashe Yado, announced that he was suing the Shin Bet for 5 million shekels. While some of the details of the torture – which was both physical and psychological – are under a gag order, information about the torture was shared:
Amiram, says his lawyer, suffered severe violence. For example, according the lawsuit, “he was shackled for hours on end and forced to spend a winter night in an unheated cell without a blanket or coat.”
This is heartbreaking and shameful. I write about it because I love Israel and know it has to be better than this.
Tweeted MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionists), an expert in Israeli law: “I don’t know whether Amiram Ben Uliel perpetrated the Duma murder or not. [However,] I know that a system of justice, which approves confessions given after torture, is not fit to be called a just system.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner.