Israel’s Consul General in New York, Where Judges Are Elected, Resigns to Protest Netanyahu’s Judicial Reform

Asaf Zamir (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty)
Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Ambassador Asaf Zamir, Israel’s Consul General to New York, resigned Sunday in protest at the Israeli government’s ongoing judicial reforms, following the firing of Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant earlier that day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu fired Gallant after the latter gave an unauthorized speech calling for his own government to stop the judicial reforms. He gave the speech while Netanyahu was out of the country.

Gallant was responding, in part, to growing protests by hundreds of military reservists who have refused to serve until the reforms are suspended. He said that the refusals were hurting Israel’s military readiness.

Left-wing Israelis have taken to the streets over the past several weeks to protest the reforms, many of which simply parallel existing judicial practice in the U.S. and other democracies. The opposition claims Netanyahu is threatening democracy, but the essence of the reforms is to expand democratic control over the judiciary.

Zamir, who served in a state where most judges are actually elected by voters, explained in a resignation letter:

Today’s dangerous decision to fire the Minister of Defense, convinced me that I can no longer continue representing this Government. I have become increasingly concerned with the policies of the new government, and in particular, the judicial reform it is leading. I believe that this reform undermines the very foundation of our democratic system and threatens the rule of law in our country. This is a pivotal moment in Israel’s history, and I believe that it is now time for me to take action and join the fight for Israel’s future alongside fellow citizens as we work together to build a better, more just and more equal Israel.

More resignations from the diplomatic corps are expected. Universities in Israel have canceled classes on Monday, and the country’s largest trade union coalition, the Histadrut, is expected to join strikes this week. Already, the opposition had declared a “week of paralysis” to protest the reforms.

A few wavering members of Netanyahu’s coalition have declared they will not continue voting for the legislative package of reforms, but most have stayed within the fold — partly because the aggressive tactics of the left have convinced members of the government that to compromise now would set a precedent of giving in to undemocratic methods.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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