Ehud Ya’ari: Israel in “one of the most serious crises that I can remember”

March 7, 2023 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Pre-eminent Israeli political commentator and Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Fellow Ehud Ya’ari has addressed AIJAC supporters in Sydney, covering the current internal disputes raging within Israel over proposed judicial reforms.

“Israel is in the midst of one of the most serious crises that I can remember in the country,” said Ya’ari. “It’s a major setback which is tearing the country and setting people against one another. People are outraged. What is at stake now is a prime minister who is fast losing control of his own government.”

Ehud Ya’ari

Ya’ari said the current political upheaval is, in part, a result of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s concern over his ongoing trial.

“He has an interest in getting away from his trial,” Ya’ari said, “whether through a plea bargain or any way possible. So, he has accepted this idea of judicial reform. It’s not reform. It’s for the government to take over the Supreme Court and the judicial system. This is the destruction of the judicial system. Many people felt for years that the Supreme Court had taken extra liberties which started with Justice Barak who initiated judicial activism. So, the court would use the argument of reasonableness when they take a decision. Do we need to take a look at how the judicial system works? Yes,” he said, but not by destroying the independence of the judicial system as the current legislation pushed by the Government would do.

“Large sectors of Israeli society, productive sectors, feel that they may be being robbed of democratic institutions, mainly the Supreme Court, and they resist. They resist in the streets – and it can get nasty. People will not give up… But now the President [Isaac Herzog] has stepped in, I think we are going to go into the arena of a compromise.”

Ya’ari posited that Herzog seems to have found an ally in Knesset Member and former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, which Ya’ari sees as the beginning of a fruitful relationship. He predicted that the current government would not last, and that Herzog may be the first president of Israel to resign and then, enter politics as the head of a centre-left coalition, together with Eisenkot, and then become prime minister.

Discussing the wider Middle East, Ya’ari referred to Oman’s recent opening of its airspace to Israel, which has opened up greater access to Asia as well direct flights from Tel Aviv to Melbourne later this year.

Due to Israeli domestic turmoil, Ya’ari warned that the expansion of the Abraham Accords has not been on the agenda recently, although there are other new possibilities presenting themselves. “Countries are ready,” he said. Saudi Arabia was moving slowly but approaching a new relationship with Israel “partly because they are totally fed up with the Arab world”.

Regarding relations with the Palestinians, Ya’ari explained that “we now have a situation in which the PA has lost control and keeps losing control over expanding islands of anarchy in the West Bank.”

He said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is unwilling to send Palestinian security organisations into the refugee camps and therefore, Israel has to enter them, resulting in sometimes deadly skirmishes.

Ya’ari argued that the only way to deal with the current impasse with the Palestinians is for Israel to approach major Palestinian donor countries and have them tell Abbas he needs to appoint a government that will be effective and rehabilitate the security and social services for the Palestinian population.

Turning to Israel’s relations with the United States, Ya’ari said that President Joe Biden is being “very patient with Bibi”.

“If a compromise [regarding the judicial reforms] is not reached, it will have a very negative impact on relations with the US for a long time,” Ya’ari said. “It will send a message to the Americans that Israel is charting a new course for itself which is not in alignment with how the US sees Israel and how it wants to go.

“This closeness is extremely important,” Ya’ari stressed. “The Iranians are playing with 84%. Everyone should remember that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was based on 84% enriched uranium. We are basically there,” he concluded.


One Response to “Ehud Ya’ari: Israel in “one of the most serious crises that I can remember””
  1. Paul Korbl says:

    Would it help if the proposed judicial reform legislation is not made retrospective so that the current Bibi Action continues.

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