Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called on the government on Saturday to halt the judicial reform, stating that the bitter dispute over the measures poses a danger to national security, Reuters news agency reported.
“The deepening split is seeping into the military and security agencies – this is a clear, immediate and real danger to Israel’s security. I will not facilitate this,” Gallant said in a brief televised statement.
Though others in the far-right governing coalition have voiced some misgivings about the contentious judicial shake-up, Gallant’s was the first clear, public objection by a senior cabinet member.
“Legislation at this time must be stopped,” Gallant said.
Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for sacking Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for demanding a halt to judicial overhaul plans https://t.co/1jfyMHx09z pic.twitter.com/VXM3LrplB7
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) March 25, 2023
At least two fellow Likud party lawmakers, Yuli Edelstein and David Bitan, came out in support of Gallant and echoed his call for justice reforms to indeed be made, but with broad agreement.
It was unclear whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrapping up a visit to London and aiming to finalize legislation on at least one bill in the coming week, would heed their call.
Netanyahu – on trial for corruption which he denies – is under pressure from others in his cabinet who want him to proceed this week with a bill that would grant the ruling coalition more sway in selecting judges, which critics say would undermine judicial independence.
Despite Netanyahu’s pledge this week to enshrine civil rights in law and defer some chapters of the overhaul during parliament’s April recess, the opposition does not seem to have weakened.
Israeli media said around 200,000 Israelis rallied against the plan in Tel Aviv on Saturday, with tens of thousands more across the country.
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