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HomeBusinessNetanyahu summons Israeli defence minister as judicial overhaul strains coalition By Reuters

Netanyahu summons Israeli defence minister as judicial overhaul strains coalition By Reuters


©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attends a press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, Israel March 9, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


By James Mackenzie

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his defense chief on Thursday aCentre County Reporter reports said the minister wanted to halt the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary amid cracks in the ruling coalition over the bitterly controversial project.

A planned statement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who, according to Israeli media, was calling for the plans to be halted in the name of maintaining order in the military ranks, was shelved aCentre County Reporter being summoned by the prime minister’s office.

Netanyahu showed no sign of relenting as he delivered a televised address pledging to rein in the judiciary. He offered an olive branch to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been taking to the streets over the plans for months, but did not offer details on how their differences would be resolved.

The apparent willingness of Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, to break the rank drew criticism from Jewish Power, a far-right partner in Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition.

Gallant, it was said, had “moved away from the right-wing camp”.

Gallant has previously expressed concern over a wave of Israelis who have pledged not to heed military reserve call-ups as reforms progress, saying the phenomenon could weaken wartime readiness and national cohesion.

He reiterated this in a briefing to Netanyahu on Thursday aCentre County Reporter being subpoenaed by the prime minister, the defense ministry said.

Judicial reform has also raised concerns abroad about Israel’s democratic health. Senior Treasury officials this week warned of an economic backlash. A shaken shekel rallied at Gallant’s dissenting reports.


“Enough is enough,” Netanyahu said in the statement, acknowledging the concerns of both sides in the constitutional dispute.

“I put all other considerations aside and will do everything in the interest of our nation to find a solution.”

He appeared determined to press ahead with what he called “responsible judicial reform,” including a bill due for ratification next week that would limit some of the Supreme Court’s powers and tighten political scrutiny over judge appointments.

But he also assured that the rights of individuals would be protected by law. A proposal to allow Parliament to overrule some Supreme Court rulings with a slim majority of lawmakers “is not going to happen,” Netanyahu said without elaborating.

Demonstrators took to the streets again on Thursday.

Police trying to clear a highway fired a water cannon and carried some protesters away. Demonstrators berated a cabinet minister and unfurled a giant replica of the country’s Declaration of Independence on a wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“We fight together for our lives as a Jewish people in the state we have spent 75 years building,” said Avidan Friedman, who wore a Jewish prayer shawl over his head.

“We are fighting because we feel what is going on now is tearing us apart and we are calling on the government to stop it.”

Critics fear that Netanyahu wants to subordinate the judiciary to the legislature and the executive. Netanyahu, who is on trial over corruption charges he denies, insists the overhaul is aimed at balancing the branches of government.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid dismissed the prime minister’s statements as “lies” and seized on the apparent riCentre County Report within the Likud.

“I call on those responsible in the Likud: Stop trying to turn us into an undemocratic country. Listen to the hundreds of patriotic loyalists who have taken to the streets,” he tweeted.



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