Former director of Israel's so-called internal security service, Shin Bet, has harshly criticized a plan by the far-right coalition of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would allow it to overrule supreme court rulings and enact laws that had been struck down, terming the planned judicial overhaul as “regime change.”
Speaking to Channel 12’s investigative ‘Uvda’ program, Nadav Argaman described the planned reforms as “a car hurtling toward the abyss,” saying that the only person who can halt the process is Netanyahu himself.
“This is a world turned upside down, a crazy work. The anarchist has become the ruler. Only one person can stop this madness. That’s the prime minister. He is the one who pushed for this whole move, which was meticulously planned in advance, and he’s the one who can stop it. Everything is entirely in his hands.”
Argaman went on to warm that Israel is on the brink of a constitutional crisis and insisted that the head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar “must listen only and exclusively to the law.”
“The head of the Shin Bet is subordinate to the prime minister, but above all, he is subordinate to the law,” he said.
“This cannot be underplayed. It’s a regime change, legally turning Israel into a dictatorship. That’s what this is. I hear members of the coalition saying, ‘Trust us,’ and when somebody tells me to trust them, I know that we’re in big trouble. Who can I trust? [Member of the Knesset] Simcha Rothman, the most extreme of extremists? [so-called minister of national security Itamar] Ben-Gvir, the anarchist criminal? [Minister of finance Bezalel] Smotrich, who wants an economy built on God’s help? Netanyahu, who can’t find the brakes and is hurtling toward the abyss?”
Argaman said if he were still head of the Shin Bet he would be most concerned about the rift in Israel.
“The greatest concern is that if these laws are passed, Israel will find itself on the threshold of dictatorship and if Israel finds itself on the threshold of dictatorship, we could witness the collapse from within,” he added.
“People in the [Shin Bet] service, the Mossad, the Israeli military and the standing army who decided that they will serve can just as easily decide one day that they will no longer serve. And if they see that a dictatorship is emerging here and they decided that they do not want to serve this ruler or another, they could decide to leave the organization… That is extraordinarily frightening, but we could find ourselves there.”
The remarks come as hundreds of Israeli soldiers and officers from the military intelligence's special operations and cyber units announced in a letter on Thursday that they will not report for reserve duty as of Sunday in protest against the planned judicial overhaul.
The controversial “legal reforms” serve as the centerpiece of the policies of the Netanyahu-led cabinet, which he cobbled together late last year by wooing ultra-Orthodox and hard-right parties.
They seek to enfeeble the supreme court by robbing it of the power to strike down either the cabinet or the legislature’s decisions.
Another element of the reforms would give the 120-member parliament the power to overrule the court’s decisions with a simple majority of 61 votes.
The reforms would also empower the Knesset to amend the so-called Basic Laws – the regime’s quasi-constitution – in any way it sees fit.
Observers say the reforms can potentially enable the Knesset to annul a set of corruption charges that Netanyahu is being tried on. The Israeli prime minister is being sued for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
Late on Monday night, the Israeli parliament advanced a bill that would allow it to overrule supreme court rulings.
The Knesset also advanced a bill that would make it harder to remove Netanyahu over the corruption charges that still hang over him.
The bill would allow the Israeli parliament to declare a prime minister unfit to rule only for physical or mental reasons and would replace current law that opens the door for a leader to be removed under other circumstances.
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