On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli writers, artists, and intellectuals urged Germany and Britain to postpone Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled trips there, arguing that his proposal to reform Israel’s judicial system has taken the nation on a dangerous path.
The ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties that makeup Netanyahu’s government are moving forward with legislation that will undermine Israel’s Supreme Court and give them authority over the selection of the country’s judges.
They claim the initiative is an overdue step to reduce what they perceive as an excessive influence by unelected judges.
Yet opponents argue that by consolidating power in the hands of Netanyahu and his legislative majority, the plan will demolish Israel’s flimsy system of checks and balances.
Additionally, they claim that Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, escaped justice.
For the past two months, tens of thousands of Israelis have protested the extensive change in the streets. Netanyahu had to use a helicopter to the airport to board an aircraft for an official visit to Italy last week because of the size of the protests.
Many of Israel’s closest allies, including the U.S., have advised Netanyahu to take things more slowly, including leaders in high technology, Nobel laureates in economics, and essential security officials. Military reservists have even threatened to cease reporting for duty.
Israel’s president-figurehead Isaac Herzog has made numerous attempts to mediate a settlement but to no avail.
Almost 1,000 Israelis said Tuesday that Israel is going through its worst crisis ever and that Netanyahu is seeking to turn it into a “theocratic dictatorship” in a letter addressed to Israel’s German and British ambassadors.
“We are requesting that Germany and Great Britain swiftly announce to the defendant Netanyahu that his planned state visits to your countries are canceled,” reads the letter.
“Mr. Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructive leadership, and in light of a vast democratic civilian resistance against the destruction of state institutions by undemocratic law-making,” are cited in the request. “A gloomy shadow will loom over these visits if they proceed as scheduled.”
Many academics, business leaders, and professionals signed the letter, including globally renowned author David Grossman, novelist Dorit Rabinyan, Oscar-nominated director Uri Barbash, and others.
On Thursday, Netanyahu will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, where Israeli expatriates claim they are planning a sizable demonstration against the prime minister’s arrival.
Following Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, Netanyahu took the helm of the most right-wing administration in the nation’s 75-year history in December.