Distrust of the Supreme Court Led Likud Voters to Rally around Netanyahu https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2020/01/distrust-of-the-supreme-court-led-likud-voters-to-rally-around-netanyahu/

January 17, 2020 | Evelyn Gordon
About the author: Evelyn Gordon is a commentator and former legal-affairs reporter who immigrated to Israel in 1987. In addition to Mosaic, she has published in the Jerusalem Post, Azure, Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs at Evelyn Gordon.

A few weeks ago, Benjamin Netanyahu handily won the Likud party’s primary election, receiving 72 percent of the votes. He won despite the fact that he is facing indictments on corruption charges that could interfere with his ability to govern if he remains Israel’s premier, and despite the credible challenge mounted by his opponent, Gideon Sa’ar. Evelyn Gordon credits the results not to love of Netanyahu but to resentment of Israel’s overweening Supreme Court:

[Last week], the court was asked by 67 academics, former defense officials, and cultural figures to rule that due to the indictments, Netanyahu should be barred from forming the next government, even if Likud and its allies win the most Knesset seats in March’s election. The justices dismissed the petition as premature since the election results may render the question moot.

What they emphatically didn’t say, however, is that whom the voters elect is none of their business, given that no existing law bars someone under indictment from forming a government, and the only relevant legislation implies the opposite: it requires serving prime ministers to resign if convicted. Instead [the court] made clear that it would consider overturning the voters’ decision should the election results make the question relevant.

The right to choose the country’s leadership in free and fair elections is the most fundamental democratic right of all. Thus the fact that the court considers itself entitled to overturn the voters’ choice without any authorization in law, merely because it disapproves of [that choice], shows just how far Israel has slid down the slope from a democracy with a strong and independent court system to a judicial dictatorship. And while the primary predated this ruling, thousands of others over the past three decades have sent the same message.

In fact, ironically enough, the charges against him actually increase Netanyahu’s value as a champion in this battle because they make legal reform vital to his own self-interest. Previously, many politicians, including Netanyahu himself, feared to enact legal reforms because the [the judicial establishment] frequently targeted those who . . . sought to do so. But now, curbing the court’s power is Netanyahu’s only chance of escaping jail; otherwise, even if the Knesset grants him immunity from prosecution, the court will certainly overturn its decision.

Read more on Evelyn Gordon: http://evelyncgordon.com/why-do-likud-voters-support-netanyahu-thank-the-supreme-court/

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