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Letting that be that: Defeated Netanyahu should drop his judicial power grab

New York Daily News editorial board (TNS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has discovered that there are limits to brute force politicking as he steps back from his ill-advised judicial control legislation as his party’s approval ratings crater and Israelis take to the streets. Or rather, this should be his takeaway, even if he is foolishly planning to regroup and resume the push after a month-long holiday break.

It’s not being conciliatory if you’re pursuing a supposed compromise after a full-scale general strike, the prospect of the partial collapse of the military and sustained, ferocious street protests. If Netanyahu thinks he can now adopt the tone of the statesman graciously incorporating opposition demands and public feedback, he is very wrong. His power grab over the courts must be dropped, not just delayed.

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A picture of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind bars is seen as members of the Israeli and Jewish community gather to protest outside the Israeli Consulate in New York, March 27, 2023, during an emergency rally for Israeli democracy. (Leonardo Munoz/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Already under a criminal probe, Netanyahu has damaged his diminished credibility with his outrageous plan to undermine the independence of the Supreme Court, which neatly could have aided his own case, including a bespoke law making it more difficult for him to be removed from office. Good luck in negotiations around his stubborn effort to subordinate the courts from a position of no leverage.

He might not want to admit it, but his judicial takeover is dead, and if the public has called his bluff once, they’ll call it again. If he attempts to slip this through after the May reconvention of the Knesset post-recess, then he should find a public just as ready to make its displeasure known.

Best to just take the well-deserved loss, though it’s unfortunate that it had to come to being publicly denounced by his own defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who put his concern for the national interest over his support for Netanyahu and their Likud party, only to be cashiered for the trouble. If the far-right constituencies that Netanyahu has made common cause with want to kick and scream about their power grab falling by the wayside, let them. History is pretty clear that wannabe authoritarians are never satisfied until they hold all the cards.

— From the New York Daily News editorial board (TNS).