Netanyahu Says He Will Be in Charge, Not Far Right

By Yisrael Price

Prime Minister-Designate Binyamin Netanyahu seen after a round of coalition talks in Yerushalayim, Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – Prime Minister-Designate Binyamin Netanyahu responded on Wednesday to critics who have been warning that his right-religious government will spell the end of democracy in the country.

“The main policy or the overriding policy of the government is determined by the Likud and frankly, by me. I think I have more than a modest influence on it,” he told American journalist Bari Weiss in an interview.

Netanyahu noted that during his years as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, he has maintained the norms of a democratic society despite alarms on the left.

“I’ve often heard these doom projections [of dangers to democracy and liberalism], but none of them materialized. I maintained Israel’s democratic nature. I maintained Israel’s traditions.

“This Israel is not going to be governed by Talmudic law,” he added, dismissing the scare propaganda of Avigdor Liberman and others who claim his new coalition seeks to install a theocracy.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that the incoming police minister’s request to transfer Yehuda and Shomron Border Police to his control would cause “serious harm” to security in the area, according to The Times of Israel.

Gantz reiterated that the military’s operational and command structure should remain independent from political control, which he warns would be compromised if Ben Gvir’s proposal were implemented.

“I emphasize that while the [IDF] chief of staff and IDF commanders are subject to the decisions of the political echelon, they have the authority and responsibility to manage the IDF’s operational and command activities,” Gantz said.

Addressing himself to IDF commanders, he added: “I know that you will remain… loyal to your position and to the political echelon, and at the same time — that you will never bow your head to a political pressure system.”

In the same vein, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi rejected Ben Gvir’s criticism of the sentencing of a soldier to 10 days in prison for telling a left-wing activist in Chevron on Friday that “Ben Gvir will make order.”

“We will not allow intervention by any politician, left or right, in commanders’ decisions, nor use of the military to promote a political agenda,” Kohavi told the soldier’s battalion and brigade commanders in a phone call, the military said on Twitter.

For his part, Ben Gvir then accused Kohavi of making inappropriate political statements and said he had no intention of intervening in the commanders’ punitive measures but demanded a change in policy.

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