Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has called upon the government to stop the controversial judicial overhaul legislation that has sparked protests across the country, sticking his neck out amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence to go ahead with the proposed “reforms”.
His intervention came as Israelis opposed to the changes held mass rallies across the country for the twelfth week in a row.
“The security of the State of Israel is my life’s mission. Over the course of my entire adult life, I have dealt with Israel’s security day in and day out,” Gallant, Netanyahu’s close aide, said on Saturday.
He said that he still supported the need to revamp the court system, but acknowledged that “unprecedented feelings of anger, pain and disappointment have risen” within the military over the proposed changes to Israel’s balance of power. The revamp includes enabling Parliament to overrule decisions made by the Supreme Court – a move that critics say will undermine the independence of the judiciary and could be used for political ends.
“Clothed in the IDF’s (Israel Defence Forces) uniform, I have risked my life dozens of times for the State of Israel. And at this time, for the sake of our country, I am willing to take any risk and pay any price,” Gallant said in a televised speech. “I declare loudly and publicly, for the sake of Israel’s security, for the sake of our sons and daughters – the legislative process should be stopped,” he asserted, pointing to the visible diminishing morale of the Army he could sense that is endangering Israel’s security and unity.
Thousands of soldiers, including those in critical divisions of the Army, had called to stop reporting for reserve duty amid the ongoing judicial overhaul process stressing that it poses a grave danger to Israel’s democracy and could turn it into a dictatorship.