Israeli gov’t in crisis, Netanyahu to speak on judicial plan

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. At the risk of further straining the relationship between Israel and the Obama Administration, Netanyahu warned members of Congress against what he considers an ill-advised nuclear deal with Iran. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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 workers union has called for a countrywide strike and urged the prime leader to abandon his proposal.

In a sudden eruption of rage on Sunday, tens of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the streets in Israel’s major cities after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly sacked his defence 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 defence minister, was fired by Netanyahu, sending a message that the reform plan would move through this week. Gallant was the first senior Likud party member who openly criticized the steps taken by the Premier stating that it will badly impact the military 

However, 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.


After warning on Saturday that the revamp plans posed “a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the state” and urging their suspension, Netanyahu made the decision to fire Gallant. In his broadcast statement, Gallant declared, “At this point, 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 defence minister, has been fired, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the statement read.

Shortly afterwards, Gallant, 64, wrote on Twitter: “The state of Israel’s security has always been and will always be my life’s mission.” 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 taken to the streets since the beginning of the year, protests started a sizable bonfire on a major highway as they flooded into the streets. In Jerusalem, where Netanyahu lives, police used water cannons to push back the crowds.

As police stepped in to clear the route 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.

The whole of Israel is in the midst of political anarchy. A country that has always been under threat from its neighbours, and internal issues causing instability, is surely something new.