All signs indicate that Israel is moving rapidly toward a constitutional crisis, unprecedented in the country’s history. It will be an apocalyptic event, centered on an all-out clash between two of the major branches of government: the judicial and the executive. It would be a situation in which the Supreme Court would overturn the rulings of the legislative body — the Knesset — which would, in turn, overturn the rulings of the Supreme Court. Trapped in the middle of this melee would be the police, the state attorney’s office and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, with none of them knowing who to follow. It would be the kind of governmental chaos that none of the founders of the Jewish State imagined, just 71 years after the country’s founding.
Throughout his years as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has been wary of assaulting the honor, status and independence of the Supreme Court. He also protected the authority and honor of the various bodies charged with enforcing the law, with particular emphasis on the attorney general’s office. All efforts to restrict the attorney general or rein in the powers of the Supreme Court were thwarted by Netanyahu in one way or another, ever since he first came to power in 1996. He was not acting out of ideological conviction. Rather, he was reacting out of fear. Netanyahu knew that the various agencies charged with enforcing the law could put an end to his rule through a series of investigations and indictments, just as they did to his predecessor Ehud Olmert. He was not ready to challenge the system yet, so he presented himself as someone who recognized the system’s status and defended its independence.