Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his defence chief on Thursday after reports the minister wanted to halt the government’s judicial overhaul plans, as cracks opened in the ruling coalition over the bitterly disputed project.
A planned statement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, whom Israeli media said wanted to call for a stop to the plans in the name of maintaining order in military ranks, was shelved after he was summoned by the prime minister’s office.
Netanyahu showed no sign of relenting as he delivered a televised address promising to rein in the judiciary. He offered an olive branch to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who for months have taken to the streets over the plans, but without offering specifics for resolving their differences.
The apparent readiness of Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, to break rank drew criticism from Jewish Power, a far-right partner in Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition.
Gallant, it said, “removed himself from the rightist camp”.
Gallant has previously voiced worries about a wave of Israelis who have pledged not to heed call-ups for military reserve duty if the reforms proceed, saying the phenomenon could weaken war-readiness and national cohesion.
He reiterated this in a briefing to Netanyahu on Thursday after being summoned by the premier, the Defence Ministry said.
The judicial overhaul has stirred concern for Israel’s democratic health abroad, too. Senior officials in the Finance Ministry warned this week of an economic backlash. A shaken shekel rallied on the reports of dissent by Gallant.