Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara is one of the most threatened people in the State of Israel today. She is protected by numerous security guards who watch her every step and the Israel Police recently raised the level of protection against her to Level Six, the highest in the force.
To understand why, all one has to do is listen to the comments that are made about her by members of the governing coalition. This week, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for Baharav-Miara’s immediate dismissal after the attorney general wrote in a response to a court petition that Ben-Gvir's actions during protests against the government's judicial reforms raise "real concern" that he crossed the line in "attempting to intervene in Israel Police's independent discretion."
According to the attorney-general, on a number of occasions, the national security minister attempted to intervene in operational events on the ground, which the law does not permit. These include his announcement on March 9 of the decision to remove Tel Aviv Police Chief Ami Eshed from his position, just hours after criticizing Eshed's handling of a protest against the judicial reforms, and while the protest was still ongoing; his contacting a number of other police commanders during the same protest in real-time, to express his dissatisfaction with their conduct; his directive during a March 1 protest against the judicial reforms, to open roadblocks of specific roads, during and because of protests occurring there; and more.
Ben-Gvir did not sit back and take it. "I am aware of the legal difficulty in firing her, but the damage the attorney general is causing every day she remains in her role is far greater," he wrote in a letter to coalition leaders.
A few weeks earlier, Justice Minister Yariv Levin threatened to fire Baharav-Miara as well, saying that it is not something that the coalition is focused on right now – for now it is moving ahead with its judicial reforms - but that “everything will be done in due time.” In other words, it will not happen right now. Baharav-Miara’s firing will have to wait a bit longer.
And then there was Likud Minister Dudi Amsalem who stood at the Knesset podium this week and called Baharav-Miara a “legal tyrant.”
"I am aware of the legal difficulty in firing her, but the damage the attorney general is causing every day she remains in her role is far greater."Itamar Ben-Gvir
What we need to recognize is that the assault on Baharav-Miara is just another piece of the coalition’s overall campaign to undermine the rule of law and enact the legal revolution that it seeks to carry out in Israel. This includes an attack on the judiciary, on the attorney general, on the police - which Ben-Gvir is single-handedly trying to demolish - and the way members of the coalition speak about the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been filling Israel’s streets for more than 10 consecutive weeks.
Undermining the rule of law
While the focus is naturally on the way the coalition is plowing ahead with its judicial reforms while disregarding the massive protests, the public concerns as well as President Isaac Herzog’s offer of a compromise, what the members of the coalition really want to do is undermine the rule of law in Israel and weaken all of the state institutions such as the police, the attorney general’s office, the state prosecution and the media.
Everyone who is against the government’s plans is considered a “leftist” or a “traitor.” This would include the former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Nadav Argaman who gave an interview to Ilana Dayan’s Uvda show on Thursday and warned that Israel was on its way to becoming a dictatorship. And there was former IDF general Zeev Snir, who served until recently as director of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, who also warned that the judicial reforms would break apart Israel’s society.
Both men were appointed to their roles by Netanyahu who once upon a time heeded their advice and believed that the men were patriots. Now, they gave their interviews knowing that they would pay a price and likely be called names and be accused of betraying the prime minister.
The assault on the country’s democratic institutions needs to stop. It is time that the coalition takes its hands off the attorney general.