National Unity party leader Benny Gantz renews his call to include opposition leaders like himself in the government’s ambitious judicial reform plan, but warns that he will not rubberstamp a coup d’etat.
“I am again calling for the establishment of work teams that will put before the Knesset a proper and broad reform, including additional layers on top of the existing ones,” Gantz says at the outset of his party’s Knesset faction meeting.
However, Gantz tells the coalition that “our outstretched hand does not come to make Israel’s coup d’etat ‘kosher’ in exchange for cosmetic fixes. If there is no profound change that expresses broad agreement and the preservation of Israel as a substantial democracy with separation of powers and judicial review — there will be no agreements at all.”
Last week, Gantz called for Israelis to take to the streets to lawfully protest the government’s plan to put political control on top of the judiciary, among other sweeping reforms. On Saturday, Gantz and several other opposition figures joined about 100,000 protesters across the country, although opposition leader Yair Lapid was notably absent.
In comments directed towards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who dismissed the Saturday evening protests, Gantz says that winning the November election did not hand Netanyahu a “blank check” to upend democracy.
“Concerned citizens deserve to be treated with respect from the prime minister, who — even if most of them did not elect him — is their prime minister. Instead, they are delegitimized and belittled,” the National Unity party leader says.