• Middle East Netanyahu promises judicial reform that "satisfies both sides" but does not stop his project

In a dramatic television announcement to the citizens of an increasingly polarized country that this Saturday registered new demonstrations of protest, the Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, has called for the freezing of the plan of changes of the judiciary promoted by his Government to agree on it in the coming weeks.

"The fracture in our society is penetrating the Army and security agencies. That poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to national security. I will not allow it," added the worried former Likud official and leader who not only requested the temporary halt of the legislative process in the Knesset but also the cessation of the protests that increase week after week since Justice Minister Yariv Levin announced the controversial proposal in early January a few days after the government of Benjamin Netanyahu took office.

Beyond his membership in the party led by Netanyahu, the statement of the head of the portfolio responsible for the Army and who knows as few the challenges and threats to Israel's security has a far greater impact than that of any other member of the coalition. His words raise the pressure on Netanyahu and are much stronger than those uttered by hundreds of thousands of Israelis who for the twelfth consecutive Saturday took to the streets to protest against what they define as laws that "end the separation of powers and judicial independence."

Faced with the possible political damage that his public demand can bring him on the right and especially in the Likud, Galant said in his speech that his duty is first and foremost as defense minister: "Israel's security is my life's mission. Since I was an adult, I dedicate myself day and night to safety. Sent by the state in the uniform of the army, I risked my life dozens of times and also at this time, for the safety of Israel, I am willing to risk and pay any price." Galant was not wrong as several ministers and deputies in the Likud and nationalist right were quick to criticize him for "yielding to the elites" or "turning his back on the will of the voters of the right." Some even called for his dismissal while at least three Likud deputies supported his request.

Galant clarified that like the rest of his colleagues in the coalition he believes that changes are necessary in the judicial system since "the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the parliamentarian needs a balance" but called for the halt of the initiatives in the Knesset in the coming weeks so that it has a greater support and above all avoids a greater internal fracture. Galant has seen firsthand how hundreds of reservists from numerous units have announced in the last month that they will not report to the (voluntary) service in protest of the advance of the laws. There are fears even that the protest will reach non-reservist soldiers in a country whose security is largely based on the army which in turn relies on conscription.

"I declare publicly and loudly, for the security of our sons and daughters, this legislative process must be stopped to allow the nation to jointly celebrate Passover and Independence Day and also to be able to mourn together on Memorial Day (Israelis in wars and attacks) and on Holocaust Day." Galant said in a speech he was scheduled to make last Thursday. Then, however, Netanyahu convinced him not to do so and gave him a few days before stating in his own television intervention that the "reform will strengthen democracy" and ensuring that it will take into account the needs of all parties. After all, Netanyahu ignored Galant and announced the continuation of a project that even before being approved has already caused one of the biggest crises in the 75-year history of his country.

Galant did heed the voices he hears in the army and no longer postponed his dramatic public petition that makes him win many points among the majority of Israelis who want a dialogue and lose many others in the Likud. However, several deputies from Netanyahu's party supported his gesture, thus opening an internal division in the Likud.

It should be recalled that due to the massive protests in the streets and the warnings coming from both the economic, technological and financial sector and all the heads of the security agencies about the negative effects of the judicial initiative, Netanyahu postponed the bulk of the proposals for the month of May after the resumption of Parliament. All except the law that gives a majority to the government coalition in the commission in charge of appointing judges, especially the Supreme Court, one of the entities that causes more animosity in the hard core of the right starting with Levin. The Government's intention is that this amendment will be approved in the coming days before the parliamentary recess that begins at the beginning of April. A key week in the Knesset and on the street where massive protest demonstrations are planned.

Galant's words quickly came to the massive demonstration in Tel Aviv. "I do not know if they will listen to Galant and stop laws that will change the democratic system and increase religious coercion and corruption," said Rachel Levi, to EL MUNDO on Kaplan Avenue that once again hosted an impressive tide of Israeli flags. "Democracy is in danger. Netanyahu, because of his personal problems due to the trial, opportunists and extremists want to have control of the judicial system," said this Israeli accompanied by her two children.

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  • Israel
  • Benjamin Netanyahu