During his opening speech at the Knesset’s annual winter assembly, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin harshly criticized Israel’s government and leadership for their attempts to weaken the “gatekeepers” of the country’s democracy and accused it of politicizing democratic establishments.


Rivlin Photo Credit: Hadas Parush Flash90/Channel 2 News

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the Knesset’s annual opening winter assembly on Monday. During his speech, he criticized the attempts to politicize the Israeli justice system amid the tensions between the Israeli Supreme Court and the coalition.

“The Knesset is the representative of the sovereign, the people of Israel, all of the people in Israel,” said Rivlin. “A decade ago, I stood before one of the giants of Israeli justice, Aharon Barak, and warned that the announcement of the legislative revolution was in fact an announcement of a coup. I told him then, and I quote: ‘Any definition that breaks the balance, any act that expresses or even symbolizes the leak of one power to another’s area, creates an existence of chaotic democracy, of systemic and dangerous disorder.’” The Israeli President stressed that he still holds the same opinion with regard to the legislative power’s attempt to “trespass” on the judicial power’s territory.

Rivlin accused the legislative power of creating a reality where everything is political, including the justice system, the media, the democratic establishments as well as the military, and of wishing to expose a so-called hypocrisy. “I cannot but describe what my eyes see, which is what looks like a continuous attempt to weaken the gatekeepers of the Israeli democracy,” stated Rivlin. “How can a threatened, conformist, toothless supreme court be an interest of the State of Israel? The same goes for the media. The Israeli media is not free of reproach.” However, Rivlin added that it is one thing to work with the media in order to repair its faults and another to wish to control it.

Rivlin also lamented the state of leadership in Israeli politics and claimed that today, the “all is political” attitude is causing the democracy in Israel to take the form of “the strongest wins.” According to Rivlin, leadership should be about creating mutual agreements and not about subjugation.