Protests in Israel: “You can see the strength of democracy”

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Interview

Status: 03/27/2023 4:36 p.m

General Strike and Ongoing Protests: Is Israel in a Domestic Crisis? No, says Ambassador Prosor im tagesschau24-Interview. The demonstrations against the planned judicial reform are an expression of a healthy democracy.

tagesschau24: Do you see yourself more as an explainer or as a defender of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies?

Ron Prosor: What you see in Israel are the democratic structures and the strength of Israeli democracy. The demonstrations show that. Of course we have a division in Israeli society. This crisis shows that if you want change, you have to talk to each other and not about each other.

To person

Ron Prosor has been the Israeli Ambassador to Germany since August 2022. He has almost three decades of experience in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Between 1988 and 1992 he was spokesman for the embassy in Bonn. This was followed by positions as ambassador in London and at the UN in New York. Most recently, he headed the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at Reichmann University in Herzliya.

“Many think that there should be reforms”

tagesschau24: Who could reunite the country now? Could that be President Isaac Herzog?

Prosor: President Herzog is really trying. Two weeks ago he submitted a proposal. He basically worked under the radar to bring people together. Ultimately, however, Prime Minister Netanyahu makes the decision. It’s like in Germany. I think a lot of people think there should be reforms. But it’s the way that gets people out on the streets.

“Need a balance between the ‘checks and balances'”

tagesschau24: Germany, for example, has a second parliamentary chamber. The US also has a second chamber of legislature responsible for the “Checks and Balances” (Editor’s note: review and compensation) care for. In Israel it’s basically just the Supreme Court. Is that maybe the problem too?

Prosor: We have different structures. From my point of view, we have to look at ourselves and not compare ourselves to models from other countries. In Germany, too, the judges (Editor’s note: the 16 judges of the Federal Constitutional Court are meant) elected by a two-thirds majority of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.

The challenge is to design the structures in such a way that a really balanced system – a sort of balance between the “checks and balances” – is created. And that’s what we’re trying to do in Israel now. It’s a heated discussion.

tagesschau24: Do you understand the protests?

Prosor: Yes, of course. I think everyone can be proud of that. They in Germany and in Europe should have been worried if there hadn’t been demonstrations in Israel.

“Relationship with Germany is the second most important”

tagesschau24: How do you see Germany? Is Germany a good partner for Israel? Or is there still room for improvement?

Prosor: First of all, there is always room for improvement – definitely. After the United States, the strategic relationship between Germany and Israel is the second most important. On all levels. That also means youth exchanges, business, research. But I am also thinking of the military and defense levels. The relationship is really deep and strong.

tagesschau24: You have German roots yourself. Your ancestors come from Berlin. How would you like to promote German-Israeli friendship?

Prosor: Youth exchange is one of my most important goals. Israel and Germany have a past, but we also have to shape the future – with young people. During a youth exchange you get to talk to each other, you really get to know each other very well.

That’s the future. We have to expand that. More young people should go to Israel and more Israelis to Germany. The exchange has an effect for years.

“Only a strong Israel can achieve peace”

tagesschau24: This is now the perfect transition to a hot topic, the Middle East conflict. Why is this basic conflict between the two sides obviously not solvable?

Prosor: For this I need at least a three-day seminar. We Israelis have shown time and again in the past that we reach out to anyone who wants peace with us. We have shown this in the case of Egypt and Jordan.

But we also have to protect ourselves with the other hand. Only a very strong Israel can achieve peace in this neighborhood. And that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s not easy, but it’s clear to us that this really is the answer. We work on it day and night.

And I hope that our neighbors – who are not exactly Liechtenstein and Luxembourg – understand that too. We must always sleep with our eyes open, because Israel’s security is constantly being threatened.

The interview was conducted by André Schünke, tagesschau24.

For the written version, the interview was edited and slightly shortened.



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