In the video: Justice Minister Yariv Levin accused opposition members of promoting legislation regarding the talks at the president's residence (Knesset channel)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present at the Knesset plenum on Wednesday afternoon, when Justice Minister Yariv Levin delivered another angry and harsh speech against the judicial system, in which he also vented his anger at the opposition and its conduct in the talks about his reform of the president's residence. This time, Netanyahu missed Levin's show of lashing out, which deteriorated into an ugly confrontation with his predecessor, Gideon Sa'ar, who blatantly slammed him: "You're destroying the country, go get hospitalized." But the texts that the justice minister voiced from the podium, about a post-Zionist agenda that has taken over the Supreme Court, which erases the Jewish identity of the state and harms the war on terror, Netanyahu knows well. They have changed little in the past 14 years, since his maiden speech to the Knesset, in which he first announced his intention to bring about a "real revolution" in the judicial system.
Netanyahu blocked and stopped Levin's revolutionary pretensions for years, until he became a criminal defendant, discovered the magic of his plans, released the wicket and appointed him to the job of his dreams. Less than a week after entering the Justice Department; Levin was already rushing to launch the reform he had been working on all his life and galloped forward with it passionately like a child on a roller coaster in an amusement park. But Levin's legal revolution, in his own language, or alternatively the regime coup in the language of his opponents, plunged Netanyahu, his government, and the entire country into a reality of crisis and chaos, and in less than 100 days, the prime minister took down the sign on the legislation and put it in a deep freeze.
Since March 27, as the political system struggles and civil protests question whether his reform is dead or alive, Levin has been in mourning, like someone who won the lottery and lost all his assets in one day. In his belligerent speeches at the huge right-wing demonstration at the end of April, in the government, and in the Knesset this week, he intensifies the rhetoric against the court and vows to its supporters that it will not surrender and that the amendment will come – but also conveys his disappointment, frustration and anger that the reins of reform have in fact been taken from him.
Netanyahu knows his texts. Levin and Prime Minister (Photo: Roni Knafo)
Netanyahu delegated his loyalists, Minister Ron Dermer and Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs, to conduct the dialogue on the legal revolution at the President's House; Although the justice minister is represented in the room by his close associate from the Kohelet Forum, Dr. Aviad Bakshi, and receives regular updates on every pip in the negotiations, it is the prime minister and his confidants who make the decisions. For example, two weeks ago, the coalition agreed to the opposition's demand not to postpone the Knesset elections for the Judicial Selection Committee again, and to hold them according to the current law and the existing composition, and to take another step towards shelving Levin's dream of a revolution in the composition of the committee.
Now, the opposition is also demanding a commitment that the Judicial Selection Committee will elect a member of Knesset on its behalf, and while it is squabbling among itself over the identity of the candidate, Levin has already made it clear to anyone who asked that he does not intend to convene it anyway, which could eventually lead to an explosion in negotiations. This week, the justice minister placed on the agenda of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation a bill to dissolve the bar association of MK Hanoch Milivetsky of the Likud, which threatened to create a crisis in the dialogue, only to remove it, within hours, and at the request of the prime minister to postpone it by a week.
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Netanyahu's loyalist in the talks. Dermer (Photo: Reuven Castro)
The President's House is now trying to stitch together a kind of interim deal that will allow the continuation of the talks and the extension of the freeze on the laws of the regime revolution, in return for the opposition's agreement and the promotion of legislation with broad agreement on the grounds of reasonableness and legal representation before the High Court of Justice. But the statements and moves by Levin, as well as by other Likudniks who call for unilateral advancement of the reform, signal that the coalition is already running out of patience for the talks.
Levin, who has to give up the lion's share of his dreams, wants to save at least remnants of the reform at the current conference, and he reiterates that if that doesn't happen in the coming weeks, he will leave the Justice Department. He had already threatened to resign in the first act, but when the freeze was announced at the end of March, he feared that it might bring about the fall of the right-wing government and did not carry out the threat. Now, with the relative stability following the approval of the budget, he is less exposed to coalition risks, and he made it clear to Netanyahu that the threat is now real and serious.
Sarah Netanyahu at the trial of David Shimron's libel suit against David Artzi, Rishon LeZion Magistrate's Court, January 23, 2023 (Photo: Reuven Castro)
Since the freeze, the Likud has whispered that Netanyahu and Levin are "no more," and that the prime minister and those around him, and especially his wife, are furious at the collapse that led to the revolution in the first months of the government. The Prime Minister's Office and the Justice Minister regularly and consistently deny the considerable tension between the two, but not the substance in which Netanyahu made a strategic decision to abandon Levin's revolution, at least for now, in order to focus on security and the cost of living, and efforts to get an invitation to Washington. And as long as the coalition decides to again advance aggressive unilateral moves that will blow up the talks and bring the masses back to the streets, his plane will remain at Ben Gurion Airport.Still, according to his associates, he is very worried about a scenario in which Levin resigns and breaks the hopes of the Bibist base to bring about a legal revolution, and the domino effect that could bring down more parts and eventually lead to the collapse of the full-fledged right-wing government.
"It would be terrible," Netanyahu replied this week when asked about Levin's threats to resign. Therefore, he is pushing more than ever for an achievement or agreement with the opposition in the President's House, which will assuage the disappointment of Levin and the base with sparks of the original reform.
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Yariv Levin
- The Legal Revolution