Update (2045ET): Massive protests have erupted across Israel tonight after PM Netanyhau fired his Defense Minister, a day after he called on the Israeli leader to halt a planned judicial overhaul that has fiercely divided the country.
As a reminder, Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore a balance between the judicial and executive branches and rein in what they see as an interventionist court with liberal sympathies. But critics say the constellation of laws will remove the checks and balances in Israel’s democratic system and concentrate power in the hands of the governing coalition.
Gallant’s dismissal signaled that Netanyahu will move ahead this week with the overhaul plan, which has sparked mass protests, angered military and business leaders and raised concerns among Israel’s allies.
“The country is facing the greatest danger since the Yom Kippur War,” writes former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“I call on the prime minister to withdraw Galant’s dismissal letter, suspend the reform and begin negotiations until after the Day of Independence.
Israel’s Consul General has resigned…
Bibi later tweeted “we must all stand strong against refusal.”
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets… in Tel Aviv…
… and Haifa…
Not everybody is protesting…
Haaretz reports that amid the unprecedented protests that erupted in Israel on Sunday night, several Likud lawmakers and ministers call to stop the highly controversial legislative process of Netanyahu’s judicial reform.
Additionally, as Nadav Eyal notes, for the first time in history, Israel’s main union, as well as leaders from the banks and the entire business sector, are about to declare a general strike demanding that the government stop the plan to overhaul the judicial system.
Finally, and more ominously, amid chatter across social media of the same, Iran has dropped the c-word:
The situation is definitely escalating, as Joyce Karam summarizes…
Ratcheting up the pressure on Netanyahu, Washington has chimed in:
We are deeply concerned by today’s developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise.
As the President recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.- Israel relationship.
Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.
We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.
We believe that is the best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens. U.S. support for Israel’s security and democracy remains ironclad.
Which follows a report earlier in the month of the U.S. State Department has been funding a left-wing organization in Israel that is helping to promote anti-government protest aimed at bringing down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his judicial reforms. The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that U.S. taxpayer funds have been granted to the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), which has participated in the protests that have rocked Israel for weeks. The protests began after Netanyahu, whose right-wing coalition won a commanding majority in recent elections, began tackling the decades-old problem of the judicial usurpation of power from the legislature.