Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a national address Monday that he was pausing his judicial reform legislation to allow for negotiation, but vowed that reform would pass in one way or another.
His remarks came a day after he fired Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, who had given an unauthorized speech opposing the reforms, citing the desertions of left-wing military reservists, while Netanyahu was in the UK.
The sacking was met with protests, strikes, and closures, including the closure of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. There was talk — primarily among opponents of the reforms — of “civil war” within the country.
Reports emerged that Netanyahu was preparing to pause the reforms, but that if the opposition refused to negotiate in good faith, he had agreed to put the reforms before the Knesset for a straight up-or-down vote.
In his address, Netanyahu told the Knesset that he was pausing the legislation due to the unrest, and that it was his responsibility as prime minister to allow space for negotiation any time there was talk of civil war.
The legislation, which has passed a first reading, will not proceed to a second or third (and decisive) reading before the next Knesset session, which starts after the Passover holiday and lasts until the end of July.
But Netanyahu also explained to the Knesset that he was not prepared to tolerate military insubordination, which he described as a disaster for the country, given the precedent it would set for soldiers on the other political side.
Shortly after his address, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued an order reminding soldiers to remain united:
"A time for responsibility”
Read the command sheet on behalf of the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi, to the commanders of the IDF and its soldiers in active and reserve duty: https://t.co/g2oYDcu2Fv
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 27, 2023
Netanyahu also addressed his own political supporters and the members of his governing coalition, telling them that they had made their voices heard, and that most people now agreed on the need for judicial reform.
Many of Netanyahu’s supporters welcomed his remarks, as he appeared to seize the moral high ground from the left-wing protesters who had brought the country to a halt, even barring international flights from leaving.
@netanyahu 's speech was historic. Our struggle, like our existence as a people in our land and for our freedom is eternal. We will persevere. We will restore our democracy from the hands of our unelected oligarchical elites. And we will safeguard our rights and our future.
— Caroline Glick (@CarolineGlick) March 27, 2023
The Israeli judiciary operates without functional checks and balances, and has become increasingly powerful in recent decades. Netanyahu’s legislation increases the power of the legislature relative to the judicial branch.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked about Netanyahu’s decision to delay the reforms, said that the Biden administration welcomed the opportunity to “create additional time and space for compromise.”
She added that “fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of public support,” after demanding Congress take action against guns, despite the Second Amendment.
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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