The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Israel's democratic crisis is about more than just Netanyahu

By Ishaan Tharoor

27 Mar 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The mass protests in Israeli cities reflect a profound ideological divide within the country, according to this analysis in the Post. For some, there are forces at play that go even deeper than that.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed what critics dubbed a full-scale assault on his country's democracy, but now he finds himself under siege. For the past four months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have marched against his far-right government's plans to overhaul Israel's judicial system - a mooted assertion of government control over the courts that plays into the agendas of the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing nationalist in Netanyahu's coalition, but which has also triggered a deep backlash against the perceived wrecking of democratic norms that it entails.

On the world stage, where Netanyahu is often most comfortable, the Israeli premier has been humbled. His plans have drawn rebukes from President Biden and leaders in France, Germany and Britain. The protests have underscored exasperations in Washington with Netanyahu, who has loomed large over Israeli politics as well as U.S.-Israeli relations for the better part of a generation. And at home, the mounting opposition has created cracks in the right-wing Likud party that Netanyahu has dominated for years.

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