Officials concerned about political situation in Israel

President of Israel, attorney general, the speaker of the parliament and other participants of Herzliya conference 2019 expressed deep worries about the current political situation in Israel.

The prominent annual policy conference from June 30 to July 2 gathered politicians, experts and former and present high-level officials who discussed strategy, policy and security of Israel.

The 19th conference was held by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

“We do not have a basic law on legislation and we have not yet set boundaries between the branches of government. Therefore, we, the citizens of Israel, stand in the middle,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

Israel has a very fragile status quo between Arabs and Jews, ultra-Orthodox and seculars, as well as basic disputes of left and right political supporters, making it almost impossible to set ultimate agreements on core issues such as a constitution.

About half of the Israeli children who start their first grade in the elementary schools are Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, Rivlin said. The number could predict even a bigger future divide in Israel’s society.

Another issue that has been tearing the Israeli public in the recent period is the dispute over the legitimacy of the ruling by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is facing corruption charges.

The supporters of Netanyahu believe that some media, police, prosecution and even the attorney general Avichai Mandelblit have joined forces to bring down the prime minister and its right-wing government.

Mandelblit was one of the keynote speakers at the conference and expressed his opinion over the current situation of the Israeli legal system.

“The legal security is also an integral part of the national strength of the state. When it is under attack or under threat, it is a primary national and public interest to fight for it,” Mandelblit said.

He stressed that some systemic and personal moves to weaken the legal system have become “prominent and tangible.”

Knesset (Israeli parliament) speaker Yuli Edelstein said that after Sept. 17, election day in Israel, the same players would sit around the same table and talk about topics they have refused to agree on.

Many voters are disappointed by another election just about half a year after the previous one, worrying the disability of forming a coalition government would paralyze the country for almost a year.

After the elections, it would take predictably months to convene a new coalition and meanwhile, the state bodies are inadequate to provide long-term policy plans.

Edelstein said that it is better for Israel “to save three needless months of country paralyzation, day of rest (election day), and money,” as the cost of the election is estimated at around 1 billion U.S. dollars or more.

“What happened to us in 2019 has never happened before and I hope that it will not happen again,” said Rivlin. “We are now repeating elections where the results could be the same.”

Israel, in a tense situation with its neighbors, always has a “martial political discourse.” Many leaders and politicians were former security forces or army veterans.

Part of the panels in the conference were security and military experts who argued if Israel is prepared good enough for the future conflicts, and whether it should use more of its military power against countries who support and host “terror organizations.”

A dispute over the future of the country was enhanced in the light of a U.S.-proposed peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

“As long as there is no trust between us and the Palestinians, we cannot reach any agreement,” said Rivlin.