‘Israel is in the process of implosion’: Democracy faces massive test

A veteran Israeli politician says her nation is facing the greatest crisis in its 75-year history as she urges Australian supporters of Israel not to ignore the huge backlash to the Netanyahu government’s attempts to overhaul the nation’s judicial system.

Naomi Chazan – a former deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament – said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “unleashed a backlash of massive proportions” by attempting to weaken the power of the nation’s Supreme Court.

Former Israeli politician Naomi Chazan says the nation is on the brink of imploding.

Gali Tibbon

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in recent months and the protests have continued even after Netanyahu announced he was pausing his planned changes, which would have allowed the Knesset to overrule the nation’s highest court if it found legislation unconstitutional.

“Israel is undergoing its greatest crisis since the creation of the state, an immense upheaval is taking place here,” said Chazan, who is currently in Australia for lectures organised by the New Israel Fund.

“I think Israel is in the process of implosion.”

Chazan accused Netanyahu of trying to simultaneously control the three branches of government, which she said was “nothing short of an authoritarian coup”.

Anger at the government extends beyond the issue of the judicial reforms, she said.

Netanyahu’s government is regarded as the most right-wing in Israel’s history because his governing coalition relies on several far-right and ultra-orthodox parties.

Chazan, who represented the left-wing Meretz party in the Knesset, noted that Palestinian politics was undergoing its own upheaval, with longtime Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas aged 87 and in poor health.

“If what’s happening here continues to escalate as it has in the past few months, it’s going to be everybody’s problem,” she said.

“This situation can’t hold.”

A protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday. Israel’s biggest cities have experienced some of the biggest protests in the nation’s history over recent months, even after Netanyahu announced he was pausing his planned changes.


Chazan said it should not be regarded as “anti-Israel” to criticise the nation’s government, adding that democracies around the world, including Australia, have a stake in its future.

“Blind support doesn’t always help Israel; it never has,” she said.

“Isn’t democracy all about disagreeing in order to improve?”

Chazan, currently the dean of the school of government and society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo, continued: “Supporting Israel today, and in the future, means supporting the democratic awakening that can set Israel back on the course of being a country that’s decent, fair, egalitarian and tolerant.”

With pro-Palestinian advocates urging the Albanese government to recognise Palestinian statehood, Chazan questioned whether it was the right time for such a move or whether this would only inflame tensions further.

Representatives from the Zionist Federation of Australia, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

Netanyahu, who is facing corruption and fraud charges, has said Israel has “the most activist judicial branch on the planet” and that the system needed to be rebalanced so that unelected judges have less power over the nation’s affairs.

He announced in March that he was suspending judicial reform until the next parliamentary session, saying the nation was “in the height of the crisis that is threatening our basic unity”.

The Zionist Federation of Australia and Executive Council of Australian Jewry welcomed that move.

“Our consistent and strongly-held position is that substantial reforms such as these should be undertaken carefully, with as much negotiation and consensus-building as possible,” they said.

“We have watched with concern as Israeli society has been riven on this issue.

“We have been in awe of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis from across the political divide and from many sectors who have come together to protest week after week.”

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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