After a night of demonstrations against his proposed changes to the judiciary and the dismissal of the defense minister, Israeli President Herzog has urged PM, Netanyahu, to reconsider.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ruling coalition have been urged to put an end to their divisive plan to modify the legal system “for the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility,” according to Israel’s President Isaac Herzog.
The head of state, who ordinarily stays out of politics, made an appeal on Monday that highlights the concern that the proposals have sparked and follows a spectacular night of demonstrations across Israel.
Despite pleas from some of his ministers, including the far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, for him to not back down, Israeli media sites are now reporting that Netanyahu is poised to announce a to stop his court makeover proposal.
Netanyahu is under increasing pressure, meanwhile, as the country’s largest labor union has called for a countrywide strike and urged the prime minister to abandon his proposal.
In a sudden eruption of rage on Sunday, tens of thousands of demonstrators went to the streets in Israel’s major cities after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly sacked his defense minister for opposing his judicial reform proposal.
Late on Sunday, protesters in Tel Aviv, many of them flying Israeli flags in the colors of blue and white, stopped a major thoroughfare and started massive bonfires, while police clashed with demonstrators who had gathered outside Netanyahu’s private residence in Jerusalem.
The upheaval exacerbated a months-long crisis over Netanyahu’s proposal to reform the judiciary, which has provoked widespread protests, scared corporate executives and former security commanders, and garnered worry from the United States and other key allies.
Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, was fired by Netanyahu, sending a message that the makeover plan would move through this week. Gallant was the first senior Likud party official to publicly criticize it, claiming that the party’s severe disagreements risked weakening the military.
But, when large numbers of demonstrators poured onto the streets late into the evening, Likud ministers started to show signs of being inclined to put a stop to things. Netanyahu aide Micky Zohar said the party would back him if he decided to put the judicial reform on hold.
Netanyahu’s coalition leaders were scheduled to meet on Monday morning, according to Israeli media. The grassroots protest movement said that it would organize another large demonstration outside Jerusalem’s Knesset, or parliament, later in the day.
In his broadcast message, Gallant declared, “At this time, for the sake of our country, I am willing to take any risk and pay any price.”
Netanyahu’s administration did not mention Gallant’s replacement or provide any other information when it announced Gallant’s dismissal. Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, has been fired, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the statement read.
The state of Israel’s security has always been and will always be my life’s objective, wrote 64-year-old Gallant shortly after.
In Tel Aviv, where hundreds of thousands have marched to the streets since the beginning of the year, protestors started a sizable bonfire on a major motorway as they poured into the streets. In Jerusalem, where Netanyahu lives, police used water cannons to push back the crowds.
As police stepped in to clear the motorway and put out the fires, there were reports of clashes in Tel Aviv.
In a joint statement, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, leaders of the opposition, criticized Netanyahu’s actions.
“State security cannot be used as a trump card in politics. They urged the Likud party to refrain from participating in “the crushing of national security” and claimed that Netanyahu had “stepped a red line tonight.”
The leader of the Histadrut labor federation, the umbrella group representing hundreds of thousands of public sector employees, added to the pressure by expressing his “astonishment” at Gallant’s dismissal and promising a “dramatic” announcement on Monday.
Israel’s consul general in New York announced his resignation in response to the firing. Israel’s research universities made an announcement that they will suspend holding classes as a result of the legislative drive and demanded an immediate suspension of it.
While expressing “great concern,” the White House urged Israeli authorities to reach a compromise as quickly as possible.
According to Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, “democratic societies are enhanced by checks and balances, and substantial reforms to a democratic system should be conducted with the largest base of popular support.”
The unrest occurs at a crucial juncture in the legislation’s passage since the Knesset, where Netanyahu and his allies hold 64 of the 120 seats, is likely to vote this week on a law giving the executive additional authority over the nomination of judges.
According to Netanyahu and his backers, the proposal, which also wants to give parliament the power to reject Supreme Court rulings, will reestablish the proper relationship between the judicial and executive spheres and restrain what they perceive to be an overbearing court with liberal leanings.
Yet, detractors claim that the measures will eliminate Israel’s checks and balances and consolidate power in the hands of the ruling coalition. Additionally, they claim that Netanyahu, who is facing corruption allegations, has an interesting conflict.
“The administration has no intention of improving the justice of the legal system by correcting, fixing, or otherwise altering it. The exact opposite. According to Ofer Cassif, an Israeli politician and Knesset member for the socialist Hadash party, “They want to take control of the legal system.”
He told Al Jazeera, “I think that we should refer to the scene not as a judicial makeover, but as a regime coup.
Israel, in my opinion, has never been a democracy because it is founded on Jewish dominance; therefore, it cannot be recognized as a democracy from the outset. However, under the coup that the administration wants to pursue, Israel will become a fully-fledged fascist dictatorship.
The protest wave caused by Gallant’s dismissal and the widening coalition divisions has now cast doubt on how, or even whether, the as-yet-unscheduled vote will proceed.
Guy Lurie, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank in Jerusalem, claimed that Israel has entered unknown ground as a result of the rapid legal and political developments.
According to him, there is a dispute about the legitimacy of several governing organizations and the beginning of a constitutional crisis. He made this statement to the Associated Press news agency.