Israel will work to prevent collapse of Palestinian Authority, says Netanyahu

Published July 10, 2023
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem on July 9. — Reuters
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem on July 9. — Reuters

JERUSALEM: Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday decided Israel would work to prevent any collapse of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Israel has been stepping up military operations in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited autonomy. Netanyahu’s office said he and his defence minister would bring to the cabinet “steps to stabilise the civil situation in the Palestinian arena.” It did not give any specifics.

Judicial reform

Netanyahu on Sunday summoned his attorney-general to explain the police’s handling of resurgent demonstrations against his plan to overhaul the justice system, as the reform bill edges ahead.

The bill that would limit “reasonableness” as a standard of judicial review — and which critics argue would open the door for abuses of power — is scheduled for the first of three ratification readings in parliament on Monday.

Compromise talks hosted by Israel’s president between the government and the opposition stalled last month. Street protests that had subsided are flaring anew.

“An agreement is attainable. And yet, still no one is willing to sit down and talk, now, without preconditions. This is a blunder of historic proportions,” said President Isaac Herzog, whose post is largely ceremonial.

Protesters plan to converge on Israel’s main airport as parliament debates the “reasonableness” bill.

In televised remarks before the cabinet session, Netanyahu said it was “unthinkable” that his religious-nationalist coalition would abridge the right to demonstrate or support any violence against protesters.

But he argued such freedom should not be extended to “violations of the law that harm the basic rights of millions of citizens and are taking place on an almost daily basis,” citing disruptions at Ben Gurion Airport, calls for disobedience within the military, main road closures and the heckling of elected officials.

He said Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara must “give an accounting” at Sunday’s cabinet. As the meeting began, Israeli media carried leaked quotes of some ministers calling for her to quit.

Baharav-Miara, according to a person briefed on the session, said she hoped the government was not asking her to say a more aggressive crackdown was needed even if it was inconsistent with the judgement of police commanders on the ground and prosecutors.

“I hope the government does not expect the law-enforcement apparatus to maintain ‘quotas’ of arrests or indictments of protesters,” she was quoted as saying.

Announcing the plan to shut all 24 of its malls on Tuesday, Big Shopping Centres called the “reasonableness” bill, if it passes its first reading, a “serious step on the way to clearly illegal governmental corruption, and another step on the way to dictatorship”.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2023

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