Has Netanyahu forgotten that Israel is a democracy?

Three words are on everybody’s lips whenever Netanyahu’s release of murderers is discussed: promise, commitment and agreement.

They are trotted out by all and sundry to explain and rationalize his outrageous conduct.

Even many critics of the release accept the claim that that there is no escaping the bind Netanyahu is in. Eitan Haber, who billed the release agreement as “the big mistake” and “a wrong government decision”, nonetheless concluded: “The State of Israel made a promise and the State of Israel must keep its promise.”

Yaakov Peri, Minister of Science Technology and Space, explained why Israel must continue committing this travesty of justice with a segue to political philosophy: “It was not easy to get them into jail or to prove that they had killed”, he began. “But a democratic state that has signed on an agreement has to honor it.”

Peri has it back to front. It is precisely because this is a democratic state that Netanyahu had no right to sign such an agreement. It is because this is a democratic state that a piece of paper violating its basic tenets is null and void.

As a democratic state, we have three branches of government, only one of which Netanyahu heads. As chief executive of Israel, Netanyahu is not empowered to crown himself chief justice.

Our courts and their carefully selected and highly regarded judges labored long and hard to adjudicate every one of the cases in which these murderers were convicted.

In opening up the prison doors, Netanyahu has and will today again declare to us: “I stand above those judges. Their reasoning, deliberations and verdicts are nothing but a child’s gibberish for me.”

No mention is ever made of the promise that Netanyahu made to his people to uphold the principles of the democratic State of Israel. He is obligated to respect this state’s judiciary, not discard it.

Of course, as prime minister, his duties also include respecting the lives of his citizens and the memories of those who were murdered in our country’s ongoing war.

But I will not even tread there. Mr. Netanyahu has made it perfectly clear, at least to us, over the last two years, that he only respects Israelis who will further his political career. Knowing that our child’s murderer is free, reunited with her family, married to her murderer-fiance and traveling around the world to incite to terrorism – all courtesy of Netanyahu – has opened our eyes to this man’s agenda.

Perhaps tonight’s images of celebration in Ramallah will open the eyes of others too.

About the Author
A Jerusalem-based freelance writer, law graduate and commentator on the challenges facing people with special needs, Frimet Roth together with her husband Arnold co-founded The Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org) in 2001. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child. The Roths' daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the terrorist bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria. Her personal blog, under the title "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly", is at http://frimetgbu.blogspot.com The views expressed here are personal.
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