80 ex-nuclear workers demand government halt ‘crazy legislative blitz’

Designed to resemble Israel’s Declaration of Independence, petition warns judicial revamp poses ‘real danger’ to country, says leaders should seek broad consensus for changes

The Israeli civilian nuclear reactor at Nahal Sorek. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
The Israeli civilian nuclear reactor at Nahal Sorek. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

A group of 80 former workers of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) published a petition Thursday declaring their opposition to the government’s planned judicial overhaul and calling for an immediate halt to the “crazy legislative blitz.”

The IAEC is a government body responsible for Israel’s secretive nuclear activities. Set up by first prime minister David Ben-Gurion in 1952, the commission is tasked with operating two research centers: the Soreq Nuclear Research Center and the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona in the country’s south.

“We, who saw in our actions a mission to fortify the independence and resilience of the State of Israel against any threat, call on the people’s elected officials: Stop, put an end to this crazy legislative blitz,” read the petition, which was styled to resemble the country’s 1948 Declaration of Independence.

The document, entitled “Our Declaration,” was signed with only the initials and job titles of each former employee that signed the petition, due to the clandestine nature of their past positions.

“Immediately stop making comments that don’t stand up to reason,” the petition continued, “and go and conduct an immediate and continuous dialogue with all segments of the nation until you reach a broad agreement in alignment with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.”

The petition noted concern over a “real danger” for the “Zionist enterprise,” concluding with a popular Hebrew catchcry: “We have no other country!”

Critics of the government’s divisive judicial overhaul have said the coalition’s proposals, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will weaken Israel’s democratic character, remove a key element of its checks and balances and leave minorities unprotected. Supporters have argued it is a much-needed reform to rein in a hyper-activist judiciary.

The plans have triggered mass rallies around the country and opposition from leading voices from a variety of interest groups, including economists, businesspeople, legal professionals, cultural figures and the high-tech industry, among others.

The Dimona nuclear research facility, officially called the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, is said to be the home of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Foreign estimates have claimed that Israel maintains a nuclear weapons cache ranging from dozens of warheads to hundreds.

Israel has never acknowledged that it has a nuclear arsenal, instead maintaining a policy of “nuclear ambiguity.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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