Defense Minister Galant was considered the voice of reason within Israel’s governing coalition. Now he is out of office because he had criticized the controversial restructuring of the judiciary. After his release, there were renewed mass protests.
Joaw Galant was previously considered the voice of reason within Israel’s partially right-wing extremist and ultra-religious government coalition – he is now out of office. Galant distanced himself from the controversial judicial reform in a public statement on Saturday: “We have to stop the legislative process now. We have to stop the demonstrations and reach out for dialogue. And any form of disobeying orders must stop immediately.”
The reason for Galant’s clear words are security risks. Along with other high-ranking representatives of the security apparatus, he had repeatedly warned that the divisions in Israeli society were deepening as a result of the reform plans and that they had long since reached the armed forces, which play a particularly important role in Israel.
According to reports, thousands of reservists are now refusing to take part in exercises and operations. Among them are fighter pilots and IT experts. Israel’s readiness to defend itself is in danger, Galant said in his statement: “The division in Israeli society is penetrating the army and security forces. This is a clear, immediate and concrete threat to the security of the state. I will not allow this to happen. “
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unperturbed by the warnings. It was said from those around him that Galant’s statement had not been agreed with him and that there was no longer any basis of trust. Galant wrote on Twitter: “The security of Israel has always been my life’s work and always will be.”
Irrespective of the ever-increasing protests against the judicial reform, the governing coalition is working on getting further parts of the reform through parliament. A law is soon to be passed in the final reading that will give the governing coalition control over the appointment of the top judges.
The deliberations on this in the Knesset Judiciary Committee were sometimes turbulent. But eventually Chairman Simcha Rothman, one of the driving forces behind the controversial judicial reform, was able to announce: “We made progress today and will continue to make progress so that the law will be ready for the final reading on schedule.” One is on the way to correcting the selection of the judges’ committee, just as promised.
“Honestly, if we look at how the opposition is behaving, one really has to be afraid of the day when, God forbid, they might come to power.” Therefore, the goal is to prevent irresponsible people from gaining power over the Supreme Court, Rothman said.
Mass protests continue
Meanwhile, demonstrations and mass protests against the reform continued. Late in the evening, tens of thousands of people had gathered for street protests. In Tel Aviv, protesters blocked a freeway and lit fires. There were also protests in other places in Israel. On Saturday, more people than ever before had gathered in Tel Aviv but also in many other places in the country.
In Tel Aviv, protesters blocked a street and lit fires.
Former Foreign Minister Tsippi Livni appealed to the members of the Knesset: “This is the last Shabbat before the vote. You have sworn your allegiance to the State of Israel. This oath does not include power, honor and money, but responsibility. Therefore: Vote against the law and for the state!”
Reports of dissenters in the Likud bloc
The question for the next few hours is whether Netanyahu will be able to keep the ranks closed. Again and again there had been reports of possible dissenters in his Likud block.
A part of the reform, which extends the immunity of the head of government, has already been decided. This is piquant because Netanyahu is on trial in three cases for corruption and abuse of office.
Israel’s controversial judicial reform – Netanyahu fires defense minister
Jan-Christoph Kitzler, ARD Tel Aviv, 26.3.2023 10:30 p.m