External interference in Israeli politics may be inappropriate but legitimate

File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, poses for a picture with US Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Sovereign, democratic nations are justifiably wary of external interference that seeks to influence their national priorities and sovereignty. So, when Senator Chuck Schumer recently, unprecedently, called for Israeli elections to oust Netanyahu who according to Schumer “has lost his way”, it caused many Israelis discomfort. Even some of those who would like to see Netanyahu resign as Israel’s Prime Minister, saw Schumer’s call as inappropriate meddling in Israel’s internal affairs. This is indeed a delicate issue. Historically, the United States has refrained from publicly calling for the ousting of a foreign leader except in extreme circumstances.

The United States’ support for Israel, especially since it intervened to save Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War disaster, has been crucial in ensuring Israel’s survival and prosperity despite its challenging geopolitical environment. However, the Biden administration and President Biden himself have brought this relationship to even new heights by supporting Israel’s security and defense over the last six months since October 7, without which Israel could not have effectively fought the war against Hamas and may have faced a full out war in other fronts. Further, President Biden has taken personal, genuine interest and a paternal role in the well-being of the victims of October 7 on the first days of the war, when Netanyahu was completely dysfunctional.

It is true that the bond between Israel and the United States is not dependent on a certain President or Prime Minister, as it is based on shared values, deep mutual respect and cooperation in many fronts, as well as mutual commitment and trust. In that context, there should not be a reason for the United States to intervene in the question of who should lead Israel. So, what happened that the most Zionist American President and his administration had to resort to such extreme move calling for Netanyahu’s resignation?

I believe that this extreme move is a response to an extreme situation, where the United States feels that its strategic ally and its global strategic interests are at serious risk. These are some of the reasons supporting this hypothesis:

  1. Netanyahu has a built-in interest to lengthen the war undermining the hope for a middle east pact between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which is critical for the United States (and Israel) in their struggle against the China-Russia-Iran axis.
  2. The extreme elements in Netanyahu’s government control him and are interested in creating an all-out war with all the Palestinians in what they believe to be the land of Israel, in order to achieve their messianic aspirations.
  3. Netanyahu’s government has taken actions, such as the judicial ‘coup’ attempts that are contrary to the shared values of the United States and Israel, and specifically conflict with the values and wishes of Israel’s own citizens, their security and future. These actions risk Israel’s long-term bond with the United States.
  4. Israel has been taken hostage by a fraudulent government that does not care about its people and has been focusing on robbing the country since it came to power over a year ago and continues to do so during the war. It is a coalition formed by a collection of interest groups that do not share a common vision of the future of this country and its only purpose is to serve their personal / constituency interests, but not the interests of the country.
  5. Israelis lost confidence and trust in their government, and so did world leaders some of whom refuse to meet members of the Israeli government because of their extreme actions and views.
  6. The government’s inactions have brought on Israel the biggest disaster, humiliation and grief since its establishment on October 7, when defenseless civilians were subject to unimaginable atrocities.
  7. Israelis literally managed the relief efforts across the country for months after October 7 – acquiring food, cloths, and even equipment to soldiers – because the government was ‘absent’ for weeks afterwards.
  8. The leadership responsible for the disaster refuses to take responsibility and hand the keys back.
  9. Members of this government disregard basic codes of ethics and criticize the military and its leaders while soldiers are fighting and sacrificing their lives; all because they want to release themselves from responsibility.
  10. Families of hostages are portrayed as enemies of the government because they protest against it, and Sara Netanyahu complains that the freed hostages never thanked them for being freed.
  11. Over one hundred thousand of Israelis who are still displaced from the north and south have been offered little help by the government except for paying their hotel bills.
  12. Israel does not function as a law enforcing state, and the United States had to resort to imposing sanctions on violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
  13. Israel was recently downgraded from a liberal democracy to an electoral democracy because of reduced check and balances and lower protection of human rights.
  14. Netanyahu has become an obstacle to any progress in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While he has skillfully closed the door to any potential solution, as he supported Hamas and weakened the Palestinian Authority, he is not offering any long-term solution. In fact, he has not proposed any vision or plan for the day after, or any specific goals and targets to the war on Gaza, other than the general empty mantra “full victory.” It is quite clear that he is doing this to avoid the most extremist elements in his coalition from leaving his government.
  15. Continuing to support Netanyahu’s government forces the United States to be in confrontation with its allies, which could embolden Russia and give China a reason to be more expansionist (e.g., invade Taiwan).
  16. For personal reasons, Netanyahu is tearing apart the fabric of the Israeli society which puts Israel’s future at risk.
  17. Netanyahu will continue to strain Israel’s relationship with its best ally and play childish political games, like “retaliation” against Washington by not sending a delegation as he did after the United States did not veto the UN resolution recently.
  18. And most importantly, the Biden administration knows that the Netanyahu government does not represent the people of Israel, or the State of Israel. Vice President Kamala Harris commented a few weeks ago that it was “important for us to distinguish or at least not conflate the Israeli government with the Israeli people.”

Indeed, three quarters of Israelis think this government should resign – including many former senior military and intelligence officers, academia, business leaders and key organizations in Israel.

All the above demonstrates the severity of a government that has lost its way. As Israel’s best ally without which it could not survive, the United States is concerned. While Netanyahu called Schumer’s comments inappropriate, the reality is that the United States may be able to use its the power to help save Israelis from the claws of a regime that refuses, at any cost, to do the right thing, after such a colossal failure. and let go. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis went to the streets to demonstrate against the Netanyahu government for months before October 7. This was followed by the traumatic atrocities and pursuing war. Israelis are exhausted and despaired. Israelis need help from their allies to take down their government and rebuild their magical country, and this uncommon interference by its greatest ally is now legitimate and much needed.

About the Author
The writer, an Israeli-Canadian, is a lay leader in Toronto. She has dedicated herself to numerous Israeli and Jewish organizations, promoting meaningful engagement and fostering Israel-Diaspora connections. Her daughter just made Aliyah during the Swords of Iron war.
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