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Gantz says judicial reform plan will lead to ‘civil war’; urges Israeli masses to take to the streets

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

National Unity party head Benny Gantz speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on January 9, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
National Unity party head Benny Gantz speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on January 9, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz says the government’s judicial reform plan will lead to “civil war” in Israel.

“If you continue on the path you are following, you will be responsible for civil war in Israeli society,” Gantz says at his National Unity party’s Knesset faction meeting, just days after the government unveiled its four-point plan to increase parliamentary power over the judiciary.

The former defense minister adds that the judicial reform plan “will have a fatal impact on national security -– both in the sense of the resilience of citizens from all parts of society, and in the ability of the High Court of Justice and the legal system to be our legal iron dome vis-à-vis the world.”

He says “liberal right-wingers, who love the state,” should be “the first to go out and protest” for what they believe in — “not against Netanyahu or against the government, but against the demolition of democracy and this unbridled, destructive move.”

Stressing that any and all such action must be within the law, he urges the wider public to take to the streets, saying, “This is the time go out en masse and to demonstrate, the time to make the country tremble.”

On Thursday, Justice Minister Yariv Levin set out the cabinet’s plan to establish a legal mechanism for the Knesset to reinstate laws invalidated by the court, retool how judges are selected, eliminate the independence of government legal advisers, and curtail the court’s ability to evaluate the “reasonableness” of government decisions.

Gantz says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal troubles, culminating in his ongoing corruption trials, has pushed his Likud party to pursue judicial reform that will lead the country to being “democratically disabled.”

“If you believe that a legal injustice has been done to you –- do not correct it with injustice to the State of Israel and to Israeli society. This is an anti-patriotic and anti-Zionist act,” Gantz adds in an appeal to Netanyahu.

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