Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday roasted IDF reservist threats to not show up for duty as an illegitimate form of protest that endangers Israel’s security.
“Anyone who calls for refusal is not acting as part of a legitimate protest. By doing so he is harming the most important thing we have—the security of the State of Israel,” Gallant said at a graduation ceremony for cadets at the Bahad 1 school for officers in southern Israel.
“We must not allow anyone to use the IDF as a tool in political campaigns or as part of inflammatory statements by anonymous people. The calls for refusal and the threats to stop volunteering undermine the basic values of the IDF as the people’s army, and endanger its competence,” the defense minister said.
A group of more than 100 Israel Air Force reservists published an open letter on Wednesday threatening to not report for duty unless the government puts a halt to proposed judicial reform legislation.
“We are announcing today that if the bill to abolish the cause of reasonableness, or any other bill that is part of the legal reform, passes third [and final] Knesset readings, we will be forced to immediately stop our volunteering for reserve service,” the letter states.
The coalition hopes to pass a bill by the end of the Knesset session on July 30 that would preclude courts and government legal advisers from canceling government decisions based on the grounds of “unreasonableness,” without any other basis.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the judicial reform initiative would move forward without the “override clause” that would allow the Knesset to reenact a law struck down by the Supreme Court as being in “unconstitutional” violation of a Basic Law.
“Legislation is proceeding unilaterally because the parties have failed to reach agreements,” Netanyahu said.
The proposed judicial reform legislation is restarting as the protest movement ramps up its rhetoric and is planning new mass demonstrations of the kind that disrupted life for large segments of Israeli society earlier this year.
Police are investigating recent calls by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan for civil unrest to oppose the coalition’s judicial reform program.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Miri Regev is warning of a “harsh” response should protesters disrupt traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport during a planned demonstration on Monday.