After the UAE postponed a trip by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Gulf country for a second time, the UK and France may also follow suit and discard Netanyahu’s request for a state-level visit.
This Wednesday, nearly a thousand Israelis from the elite society wrote similar letters to Germany and Britain and called on the two European countries to cancel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expected visit to Berlin and London.
The move was aimed at showing discontent with Netanyahu and his controversial decision regarding limiting the authorities of Israel’s Supreme Court; “In view of Benjamin Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructive leadership, and in light of the opposition of many Israeli citizens to the legislative moves and the dismantling of state institutions in his hands, we ask Germany and the United Kingdom to inform the accused Netanyahu of the immediate cancellation of his planned political visits to you,” read the letters, signed by 978 Israeli writers, authors, and intellectuals.
Referring to the current situation that dominates Israel and is indeed the direct outcome of policies taken by Netanyahu’s government, the letter also warned that “the State of Israel is now in the most acute crisis, the worst in its history, in an accelerated and dangerous process of turning [Israel] from a prosperous democracy into a theocratic dictatorship.”
The UAE was the first to discard Netanyahu
Early in January, Netanyahu went through a similar state shock when his trip to the UAE was postponed for a second time by the host country. According to Israeli television broadcaster Channel 12, the trip was postponed once again “to allow governments to work together to ensure the successful completion of the trip,”
However, experts believe that the UAE’s decision came after Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex despite warnings of unrest a few days earlier. Following the illegal visit, Abu Dhabi was among the first countries to condemn the move; “The UAE strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement back then.
Critics can’t trust the far-right government
Proposed by Justice Minister, Yariv Levin, the reform, if enacted, would be the most radical change ever in the system of government in Israel. The far-right government in Israel under Netanyahu’s rule claims that restricting the power of the Supreme Court is good for Israel’s democracy because it will simply curb what they see as an outsize influence by unelected judges.
Critics, however, hold a totally different viewpoint and believe that the plan will only concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his parliamentary majority and will destroy Israel’s fragile system of checks and balances. Many of them also say that all the noise is an attempt by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, to escape justice with the help of his extreme ministers.
In a unified show of opposition to the power-grabbing efforts of Netanyahu’s government, tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets over the past two months to protest. Last week, protests were so large that Netanyahu was forced to take a helicopter to the airport in order to catch a flight for an official visit to Italy.
But it is not just common people in Israel who are against Netanyahu’s decision, thousands of elites from high-tech leaders to Nobel-winning economists and prominent security officials in Israel have spoken out against it. To make matters worse, even Israeli military reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty if the decision is to become law. Some of the closest allies of Israel, including the United States, have also urged Netanyahu to rethink.