Growing signs of collapse of the legitimacy of all three branches of government -- an ongoing constitutional crisis in a nation with no constitution. IDF remains the one institution that still generates high levels of trust and support.
Figure. Cardboard guillotine in Tel-Aviv protest on Saturday, December 23, caused a media tempest.
Video. Tens of thousands in Tel-Aviv protested on Saturday, December 23, against government corruption, calling for Netanyahu's's resignation and indictment.
Tel-Aviv, December 25 -- news this evening reported that former IDF Chief of Staff/former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, met with current IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisnkot in the former's apartment 24 hours prior to Barak's statement regarding potential IDF and Shin-Bet disobedience and rebellion. [i]
This detail gave a new twist to Barak's last Friday's statement, which generated headlines and upheaval in the political system, that "the most right-wing government ever will cause an uprising and civil resistance and disobedience by senior IDF officers". [ii,iii]
On Saturday night, competing demonstrations were held in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. The Jerusalem demonstration drew several hundreds, and was organized by right-wing figures under the title, "for the rule of law". [iv] The most notable speaker in the Jerusalem demonstration was former Defense Minister/former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, member of Netanyahu's Likud party, and now one of his fiercest critics. He reiterated what former Netanyahu National Security Adviser Uzi Arad had stated in the Tel-Aviv demonstrations - corruption "is a greater danger [to Israel] than the Iranian threat, Hezbollah, Hamas, or the Islamic State."
Recent demonstrations have been packed with former top security apparatus figures. [v]
The Tel-Aviv anti-corruption, anti-Netanyahu demonstration, drew tens of thousands. It was part of the Saturday night demonstrations, ongoing now for over a year, which were held until recently near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Mandelblit is perceived as stonewalling investigations and prosecution of those involved in government corruption. [vi]
A single demonstrator in Tel-Aviv, a graphic designer, who marched with a cardboard guillotine, created a media frenzy. The President, political figures denounced it as incitement for assassination. Media claimed that police started a criminal investigation. [vii] The culprit, Amit Brin , claimed in his own defense that he meant it as a "cigar clipper". Such claim was a comic reference to one of the series of corruption investigations engulfing Netanyahu and his associates: For years, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan supplied Netanyahu pricey cigars and his wife pink champaign and jewelry -- upon demand . The matter is part of a series of investigations of bribing and quid pro quo. [viii]
The guillotine specter is of course reminiscent of demonstrations held in 1995 by Netanyahu himself, prior to PM Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. Netanyahu then led demonstrations with a coffin marked Rabin and a noose. [ix] The Rabin assassination is an unfinished business in Israeli politics, splitting society to this day.
In late October, President Reuven Rivlin warned against "winds of revolution" sweeping Israel. [x] Such remarks were made in his official speech at the opening session of the Knesset, and were described as an attempt to keep Israel from descending into an abyss. [xi] It was directed against Netanyahu and his supporters, denouncing their tactics vis a vis the deepening corruption investigations. Rivlin is also a former member of Netanyahu's Likud party, but the President and the Prime Minister are not on speaking terms.
Netanyahu, his supporters, and the Sheldon Adelson- sponsored propaganda organ, Israel Hayom, have been leading for months a frontal attack against police and its chief, Ronni Alshech, hand-picked for the job by Netanyahu himself . [xii] Netanyahu and Police Chief Alshech are also reportedly today barely on speaking terms...
The assault on police was led by majority whip, MK David Bitan, a Netanyahu confidant. Bitan resigned last week, following intensifying corruption investigation. [xiii] The affair, regarding which Bitan is investigated, goes back some years, and there are clear innuendos that the investigation is a police retribution against his vocal criticism.