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Former officials warn Netanyahu's policies 'dismantling' Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Reuters)

A group of former Israeli officials has warned that the policies of the incumbent far-right regime led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are “dismantling” Israel's military, economy and social fabric. 

According to a damning letter, signed by 51 former officials from the Israeli military, Mossad spy agency, so-called internal security service Shin Bet, police, and the ministry of military affairs, Netanyahu is “leading acts aimed at harming the Israeli judicial system and the supreme court in a way that will nullify its independence, and subordinate it to Netanyahu and his fellow politicians.”

The Israeli officials said Netanyahu’s efforts were “transforming Israel into an autocracy that harms its strength through dismantling the army, its military establishment, economy, and risks the social fabric of the people”.

Among the dozens of signatories to the letter are former Israeli minister of military affairs and military chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon; former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo; and former prime minister, minister of military affairs, and Israeli army chief of staff, Ehud Barak.

Pardo, who was in charge of Mossad from 2011 to 2016, made headlines on September 6 when he said Israel is enforcing an apartheid system against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, equating the treatment of Palestinians to the racial separation implemented in South Africa that ended in 1994.

The letter came as Netanyahu set off for a visit to the US. Netanyahu has yet to secure a visit to the White House, and two far-right members of his coalition, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Bezalel Smotrich, have so far been snubbed by the Biden administration.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Israeli high school students announced that they will refuse to serve in the military in protest against the policies of the incumbent far-right regime, including the controversial judicial overhaul.

Youth Against Dictatorship, in a statement released at the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school in central Tel Aviv, also explicitly tied their cause to opposition to the oppression of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank.

Critics have accused Netanyahu of using the judicial overhaul plan to remain in power. They say he, who is on trial on several counts of corruption charges, is also attempting to use the scheme to quash possible judgments against him.

The protests have gained momentum since the end of July, when the Knesset passed the first bill of the overhaul plan, which restricted the supreme court's ability to declare the cabinet's decisions "unreasonable."

More than 10,000 reservist soldiers, including members of the elite intelligence unit 8200 and air force pilots, have said they would no longer show up for duty on a voluntary basis in protest.

Former politicians and members of the security establishment have also declared support for the boycott.

Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said at a demonstration in Tel Aviv in July that the time had come “to decide on the suspension of volunteering for the reserves until the legislation is completely stopped.”

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