A former prime minister of Israel on Sunday called for massive civil disobedience in his country if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s package of judicial reforms is enacted.
Speaking on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Ehud Barak said, “Once a government, using the tools of democracy, in order to destroy it from within, and ends up acting in a blatantly illegitimate matter, it is not just the right of citizens, it is, in my judgment, the obligation of citizens to turn unfortunately toward civil disobedience.”
He added: “It’s an attack on the very soul and nature of our democracy.”
Barak, who served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001, appeared on Zakaria’s program with Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli Justice minister and former vice prime minister.
A former Defense minister and chief of staff of the military, Barak raised the possibility of the Israeli military refusing to accept orders from Netanyahu’s government if it improperly seizes more power.
“We do not have a contract with a dictatorship and once there is a de-facto dictatorship in Israel, we do not have a contract with them,” he said of the military. (Barak clarified that he was certain soldiers would obey orders if the country’s survival was in jeopardy.)
Netanyahu’s package of judicial reforms would essentially strip his nation’s Supreme Court of its independence and defang the nation’s courts by making it possible for the government to pass legislation that can’t be reviewed in the courts. Netanyahu and his backers say the legislation is necessary to curb the power of renegade judges.
Opponents of the measure, some of whom have taken to the streets to protest over the last 10 weeks, insist the legislation could undermine the democratic nature of the country by eliminating safeguards.
“These are not judicial reforms,” Livni told Zakaria. “It is about changes of the nature of Israel as a democracy.”
She added: “The politicians in the government and the parliament can legislate, but the Supreme Court could and should supervise human rights.”
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