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Israeli defence minister urges halt to judicial reforms

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has backed an immediate and temporary halt to the Israeli government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary.

March 26, 2023
26 March 2023

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Galant has called for a halt to the proposed judicial overhaul that has riven society, in a major break with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We must stop the process in order to start a dialogue,” Galant said in a surprise speech, saying Israel’s security was at risk.

He said he had heard disturbing comments from commanders in the army in recent weeks as tensions escalated over the reforms that would intentionally weaken the Supreme Court and hand more power to parliament.

Galant spoke of “anger, pain and disappointment of an intensity I have never experienced before”.

The defence minister referred to numerous cases of reservists who did not show up for duty in protest over the reforms.

“We must stop any form of insubordination,” he demanded. 

Mass street demonstrations must also end, he said, and be replaced with dialogue between opponents and supporters.

“The threats around us are great,” Galant warned, referring to Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict with the Palestinians.

The religious-nationalist coalition of Netanyahu intends to push through core elements of the reform this week.

The coalition has accused the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions and has proposed changing Israeli law to allow parliament to overrule the court’s decisions with a simple majority.

The proposed reforms would also give the government far more power over the appointment of judges.

Critics see the changes as a major threat to the separation of powers. 

Huge demonstrations against the reforms have taken place regularly across the country for the past three months.

According to Israeli media, almost 200,000 demonstrators gathered again on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv.

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