President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday that Israeli democracy is strong enough to withstand ongoing political attacks on police investigations and public protests against the courts.
“We are strong enough to build strong institutions for our democracy, institutions like civil rights, the court, the police and a state army, headed by excellent people, real patriots, while at the same time we are strong enough to absorb criticism of those institutions, provided it does not become delegitimization,” he said in a speech at a conference in Jerusalem to mark 70 years of Israeli democracy, organized by the Israel Democracy Institute and Makor Rishon newspaper.
“We are strong enough to criticize our leadership — provided it does not turn into incitement and delegitimization — without worrying that through this criticism we are also harming the strength of the State of Israel,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the subject of several police investigations, has lashed out at police several times recently.
“We’re under constant attack, every hour, every minute,” Netanyahu told reporters Thursday before boarding a flight back to Israel after an official visit to the US. “The prime minister is allowed to insist on justice and to defend himself. It’s absurd to try to silence us. I will tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable for some people.”
At the same time, for over a year demonstrations have been held every Saturday night outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, alleging that he is stalling in a series of corruption probes against Netanyahu.
The president said that democracy was “fragile,” and needed to be safeguarded.
Rivlin, a longtime proponent of annexing the West Bank and granting citizenship to Palestinians, also addressed that issue, rejecting coalition initiatives that would see Israel apply its sovereignty only to parts of the territory.
“There is room to examine the application of the law and sovereignty over Judea and Samaria,” he explained, using the biblical term for the West Bank, adding that “it is a mistake to think that Israeli law can be applied only to parts of it.”