Ehud Olmert to 'Post': Netanyahu only knows how to destroy democracy

Charles de Gaulle was a leader. Benjamin Netanyahu – in his essence, behavior and lifestyle – is nothing more than a pretentious wheeler-dealer.

A BILLBOARD with a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the words ‘Our Beloved’ hangs in the Ramat Gan Diamond District last week. Charles de Gaulle saw himself as the king of France. Netanyahu believes he is king of the Jews. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
A BILLBOARD with a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the words ‘Our Beloved’ hangs in the Ramat Gan Diamond District last week. Charles de Gaulle saw himself as the king of France. Netanyahu believes he is king of the Jews.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
It’s almost certain that at some point in the first half of 2021 the State of Israel will set an all-time record for any democratic country by holding its fourth election within a two-year span. This pace of one election after another is somewhat reminiscent of the upheaval that took place in France in the 1950s. France’s democratic foundation appeared intact, but it turned out to be an artificial shell that could not hide the political decay, the internal instability, the frequent changes of government every few weeks and the increasing internal division, especially regarding the continuation of the war in Algeria and France’s refusal to give up control of its colonies.
In a lengthy and painful process, the French Fourth Republic reached a state of helplessness, which eventually led Gen. Charles de Gaulle to return to power and to make changes in the structure of the government and the new French constitution.
De Gaulle was brought back to power, with the support of militant factions in France and the military establishment, which saw him as a symbol of France’s strength and hoped he would maintain colonial rule in Algeria. He was widely popular and millions of French citizens recalled the courageous actions he took during the World War II.
I will not detail here the complex process of change that France underwent, except to say that in the end, it was de Gaulle who withdrew from and granted independence to Algeria. French citizens who were in favor of retaining French control over Algeria rebelled against this order, and a number of failed assassination attempts were made on de Gaulle’s life. France returned to functioning as a stable democratic entity that was even more balanced than it had been previously. Later on, de Gaulle faced widespread protests in 1968, and, as a result, was forced to resign from his position as president of the republic.
A process similar to what France underwent in those years is currently taking place here in Israel. There’s just one fundamental difference between the two countries. De Gaulle had been the leader of the French Resistance that had opposed the conquering Nazi regime during the World War II. He returned to office in order to lead France’s withdrawal from Algeria and to be part of the creation of the European Union. France played a leading role in the creation of this pan-European body.
De Gaulle was a brave general who fought courageously for France’s independence. He was a stalwart and arrogant man with excessive self-confidence who believed in France’s cultural and spiritual greatness. It seemed, at times, that he thought he and France were one and the same, until he was forced to resign when the French public, which just a few years prior had brought him back to center stage, pushed him once again to the sidelines.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, is no Charles de Gaulle. In fact, he’s nothing at all like the French leader. Netanyahu lacks the inspiring and charismatic leadership de Gaulle developed and honed in the years France suffered under German occupation. Netanyahu doesn’t have the sense of historical consciousness de Gaulle had, who knew how to shape and conquer the hearts and admiration of the French people. The only thing Netanyahu knows how to do is to destroy our democracy, not bolster it.
De Gaulle was a leader. Netanyahu – in his essence, behavior and lifestyle – is nothing more than a pretentious wheeler-dealer.
De Gaulle saw himself as the king of France. Netanyahu believes that he is king of the Jews, and his wife the queen.
De Gaulle, by nature, despised smallness. Netanyahu is made up of an endless string of tricks, scams and lies; he thrives when he manipulates his aides supporters and partners against each other.
There is nothing to connect the person who was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century with the person who decided that the only way he could remain in power was to bring about a revolution that would shatter Israel’s democracy, alter the nature of the inner workings of our government and turn the police into a tool for enforcing the will of the leader and preventing people from expressing their opposition.
In essence, Netanyahu is striving to transform the State of Israel from a parliamentarian democracy, as it has been since its establishment, into a presidential democracy or an absolute monarchy, in which the person who serves as head of state has no need for popular support and is not subject to public criticism. He wants to be president, but with the full executive authority of a king.
If he could, Netanyahu would aim to fulfill the dreams of his family and try to create a monarchy in Israel so that Sara Netanyahu could be the queen. They have already gathered at their home enough jewelry to embellish their royal garments and adorn royal crowns.  
There is no better indication of the mood surrounding this family than the huge depictions of Netanyahu that have recently been mounted upon billboards that hover above the bustling streets of large cities with the words “Our Beloved” inscribed below them.
During my lifetime, I have visited in a number countries in Africa and Asia, where I saw similar larger than life-size portrayals of government leaders peering down upon the commoners. These countries are run by monarchies, and an image of the queen would usually appear next to the king.
AT PRESENT, our prime minister is extremely focused on completely demolishing all the traditional governing institutions that maintain the correct balance between the need for stable, authoritative governing and the need for supervision and to keep everything balanced, to protect our society from being exploited by the corrupt, unrestrained and unruly regime that lacks all inhibitions.
Many people believed that a two-headed government would create a balanced leadership that would protect democracy and enable us to mobilize all of our energy to fight the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, to prevent the collapse of our economy, the personal financial devastation of hundreds of thousands of families in Israel and poverty, which is affecting more and more families every day as the unemployment rate grows.
But even those who genuinely believed that the new government would achieve all of these goals (though I personally did not), now understand that this is never going to happen. I’ve read quotes attributed to the Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, saying that they don’t believe one word that comes out of Netanyahu’s mouth. I have no way of proving it, but you’d have to be a complete fool to believe someone who engages in lying, cheating and deception at every turn. Gantz and Ashkenazi are not fools. They are decent people who have uncovered the truth, and their fellow members of Knesset in the Blue and White Party also know that there’s no longer any chance that their aspirations for partnership with Netanyahu will take form.
What needs to be done quickly, and soon, is to dismantle the government. There’s no way to get around doing this. The fact that the 2021 budget has not yet been approved, after many months of discussions, is just another layer of the Netanyahu gang’s policy of lies, fraud and irresponsibility. In a normal year, the state’s budget would have been approved in November or at the latest December. But the fact that they don’t even have a draft budget prepared at the end of November is a crime that is designed to give the prime minister and his henchmen freedom to use state funds for all sorts of initiatives and adventures that are not intended to benefit the country.
There is no solution other than heading back to the polling booths. It’s true that holding a fourth election in less than two years is a costly strategic failure, but letting the current government to continue ruling in its current composition based on this unstable and bizarre legal basis, will lead to even greater damage.
I believe that society will pick an alternative leader who will successfully remove Netanyahu from office – of course, through democratic means, so long as that is possible, before the gang tries to pass legislation that would eliminate the need for an election at all.
There are a number of worthy figures in the political periphery that are qualified to replace Netanyahu and who could bring back hope into the hearts of the Israeli people.
There’s no need to name names at this point in time. They will spring forth when the time comes and will bring with them the many talented and honest lovers of Israel, as most of the people who live here are.
None of them will be an icon like de Gaulle, just as Bibi is a straw man of de Gaulle, but not the real man.
The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.