“When I want something, I get it”.
Thus said Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu back in September 2015, after he managed to get the natural gas deal approved. He addressed the press with that characteristic smug expression of his, and uttered those 6 words in Hebrew: כשאני רוצה משהו, אני משיג אותו.
Yesterday, Israel’s supreme court blocked the gas deal, giving the government a year to pass it properly through the Knesset, or else it will be void. Four judges against one agreed that the government led by Netanyahu “stretched the limits of democracy” to a dangerous level.
The natural gas deal is a complex matter and few people (me not included) understand it in detail. It might be a very good deal. But that is besides the point.
Netanyahu, almost single-handedly, decided to ignore due democratic process and made it his mission to pass the deal through on his own terms, come what may. He ignored not only the Knesset, but also opposing voices within his own government. He got rid of people that were an obstacle to the deal, such as the previous anti-trust director, replacing them with yes-men. He invoked a veto power (“section 52”) that has never been used before. One can only speculate about the reasons behind his obstinate determination to get the deal approved in its current form, one that provides overly generous terms to the gas companies and freezes any changes to the deal for a decade.
The judges in Jerusalem basically taught Netanyahu a lesson, not only in democracy but also in humility. At least for now, the almighty Bibi did not get what he wanted, despite his boasting.