Demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and its judicial reform proposal, March 18, 2023.
Tel Aviv – Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant today called to stop the controversial judicial reform. The deepening internal rift caused by the effort to push through the reform poses an immediate threat to the country's security, the minister said in a televised appearance, according to Reuters.
Tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating in Israel for several weeks against the reform, which, if approved, according to critics, will limit democracy in the country. The Times of Israel reported that an estimated 195,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv this evening to protest the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its judicial reform. At one point, the police used a water cannon against them. Tens of thousands of people are also demonstrating in Haifa and other cities.
Galant is the first high-ranking member of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition government to openly oppose the reform, the AP agency wrote. The minister said changes to court laws needed to be negotiated with the opposition and said the reform process should be suspended with immediate effect. “At this point, we need to stop the legislative process and allow people to celebrate Passover and Independence Day,” he said.
In recent weeks, opposition to the reform has also been heard from among the ranks of the Israeli army, which is one of the most respected institutions in the country. An increasing number of reservists are at risk of leaving voluntary service, according to the AP agency.
Galant announced his intention to make a statement already on Thursday, but then he was summoned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Galant ultimately did not speak publicly. According to Galant's office, however, the minister told the prime minister what consequences judicial reform could have for the Israeli army and defense.
Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, after Galant's speech today, called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to suspend the defense minister because of his statements he appealed, The Times of Israel reported. “I call on the prime minister to dismiss Galant, who came to government thanks to the votes of the right, but succumbed to the pressure of those who refuse (service in the army) and are trying to stop this important reform,” said Ben Gvir.
Leader Israeli opposition Yair Lapid, on the other hand, praised Galant for “a brave, key step in favor of Israel's security”. At the same time, like Galant, he appealed to the government not to continue with the reform and to start negotiations with the opposition.