The Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, opened the first crack in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu this Saturday over the controversial judicial reform, by publicly calling for its suspension.
In a televised speech at the same time that tens of thousands of people demonstrated for the twelfth consecutive Saturday, Gallant warned that the political and social crisis generated by the reform (which, if it goes ahead, would weaken the division of powers) “He hasn't been left out of the Armed Forces,” in reference to the growing number of reservists — and even serving soldiers — determined to refuse certain missions if he goes ahead.
"The dimension that feelings of anger, disappointment and fear have reached has never been seen before," he added.
The first law of the initiative was approved this Thursday
After making it clear that he continues to consider himself to be on the right, Gallant —a respected reserve general— has stressed that his “vital mission is the security of the State of Israel” and that he is witnessing these days the “erosion” of the source of his "strength".
“The growing schism in our society is penetrating the Armed Forces and the security forces, which poses a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the State.
I will not allow it ”, he has sentenced.
Gallant has spoken of "unprecedented" security challenges coming "from near and far" and which he has privately detailed to Netanyahu.
“Now, I say it publicly: for the safety of Israel, for our sons and daughters, we must stop the legislative process and allow the Israeli nation to celebrate Pesach (Passover) and Independence Day together, and mourn together. on Remembrance Day [to fallen soldiers] and Holocaust Remembrance.”
In recent days, the fear has spread that these anniversaries - which coincide next month - will be celebrated under the shadow of division.
Some relatives of dead soldiers have told the press that they will be absent from the central act.
This is the first public standoff within the Executive and the most important within Likud, the right-wing party led by Netanyahu.
In an apparent coordinated action, minutes after the announcement, two other deputies from the formation have supported the minister.
Yuli Edelstein thanked him for having "joined the path" that he had been leading for weeks.
He had already been absent from two votes and is sanctioned by the party, although he has avoided revealing whether he would say the word
(against) in the Knesset.
And David Bitán has asked on Twitter for "immediate negotiations" to reach "broad agreements."
"I support the words of my friend the Defense Minister," he stressed.
Nor is it a surprise.
They were already the first deputies of the coalition to ask for the paralysis of the reform.
Edelstein and another legislator from the formation, Danny Danón, also signed this month a joint call for dialogue with two from the opposition National Unity party, Jili Tropper and Gadi Eisenkot, who have respectively served as Minister of Culture and Sports and Chief of Staff.
Yoav Gallant on March 9 in Tel Aviv.ATEF SAFADI (EFE)
Gallant's unchecking has not gone down so well with other party mates.
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has apologized to Likud voters for Gallant's "surrender" "to pressure from the left."
"The State of Israel is at a historic crossroads between democracy and dictatorship, and its Defense Minister has chosen dictatorship," he tweeted.
Deputy Ofir Katz has assured that Gallant has been “completely wrong”, to then warn anyone who abstains or votes against the reform laws that his career in Likud could be terminated.
The person who has gone the furthest is the head of National Security and leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Itamar Ben Gvir: he has asked Netanyahu to remove him immediately.
“Gallant gave in tonight with blackmail and threats to all those anarchists who call for the refusal to follow orders [in the Army] and use the Armed Forces as a negotiating tool.
He was elected with the votes of right-wing voters and in practice promotes a left-wing agenda.
At the decisive moment, he collapsed due to the pressure of the media and the protesters, ”he pointed out in a message broadcast on his Telegram network channel.
Gallant was already going to get off the reform train two days ago, but when the media announced his appearance before the cameras (and the stock market rose and the currency, the shekel, strengthened against the dollar), Netanyahu went ahead and urgently called a meeting.
In the conversation, he asked him for time and convinced him not to air before the whole country the differences that he had been conveying in private for weeks.
The minister, as the chiefs of the General Staff, Herzi Halevy, and the Shin Bet, the secret services in Israel and the Palestinian territories, have done in recent days, Ronen Bar, expressed his concern about the threat to the country's security that generated the political and social crisis, according to local media.
Barely an hour later, Netanyahu delivered a speech in which he struck the most conciliatory tone to date (he advocated a "balanced reform" that would "respond to the fears and concerns" of both supporters and opponents), but made it clear that the reform would go ahead on schedule.
In other words, Parliament will vote next week on the last two readings of the law that would allow the Government to impose at least two Supreme Court judges.
The shekel fell again.
Gallant supports the concept of the law, but it is the window to which his former colleagues in the Army present their complaints and fears and the one that receives the most information on the scope of the "rebellion" in the Armed Forces.
That differentiates him from fellow party members, such as Yariv Levin (Justice), who leads the reform and who has been obsessed with the composition of the court since the beginning of his political career;
or the ministers of Religious Zionism and Jewish Power, the far-right coalition partners who have had the Supreme Court in their sights for years.
One of the coalition's ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism, supports executive control over the judiciary primarily to ensure its constituency will not be forced into conscription.
In fact, in the alternative reform proposal that he presented on the 15th (and which the government took minutes to reject and the opposition has accepted), the country's president, Isaac Herzog, included a series of nods to the ultra-orthodox apparently intended to reassure them on the issue to gain their favor.
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