Smotrich rejects Gantz’s warning that civil war is coming, calls for end to ‘inflammatory discourse’

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

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference with bereaved families at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, January 8, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference with bereaved families at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, January 8, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attacks opposition politicians who accused his camp of inciting “civil war,” and averred that the government’s judicial reform plan aims to “strengthen Israeli democracy” and restore public trust in the courts.

Speaking minutes after National Unity party leader Benny Gantz warned that the judicial reform plan set out last week would push Israeli society to the brink, Smotrich says “it is doubly sad when harsh words and threats of civil war come from the highest echelons.”

Speaking at the outset of his own Religious Zionism party faction meeting, Smotrich urges “that everyone cease the inflammatory and inciting discourse at once.”

“From time immemorial, then and now, the nationalist camp has said no to civil war,” he adds.

Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman is a key figure in pushing the coalition’s judicial reform plan spearheaded by Likud Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

Smotrich recalls that he presented elements of the judicial overhaul program at a press conference shortly before the elections, and says that the public voted for  it.

“I won’t live a day in a country without a strong, independent judiciary — a judiciary that will protect individual rights but will not advance a radical leftist agenda,” he says. “The correction is starting. We are seeking a court that has the public’s trust. A diverse, strong court that defends the weak and protects the ordinary citizen.”

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