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Netanyahu: IDF refusals the real threat to democracy

Soldiers who refuse to serve endanger Israel's citizens and erode it, declared the prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 18, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 18, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed on Monday the danger to the country posed by IDF reservists who threaten to refuse to serve if the government advances judicial reform legislation.

“It is impossible for there to be a group within the army that threatens the elected government [and says] if you don’t do as we wish, we will turn off the switch on security,” Netanyahu said at the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“No democratic country can accept such a dictate,” he said, adding that only in military regimes does the government obey the army and that “those waving the flag of democracy should be the first to come out against this phenomenon.”

Netanyahu said soldiers who refuse to serve endanger Israel’s citizens, erode deterrence and undermine army discipline.

Volunteer reservists and pilots announced they would not report for duty if the government continues to push through a bill to cancel the court’s ability to overturn laws and government decisions based on whether or not they were “reasonable.”

The bill passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament last week. On Monday, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will debate final changes to the bill before it heads back to the plenum for its second and third readings necessary to become law.

On Sunday evening, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi met to evaluate the potential impact of judicial reform on the military.

If 400 pilots refuse to serve, military fitness will be harmed and the IDF won’t know how to cope with such a significant loss of personnel, Channel 12 claimed on Sunday.

So far, 300 reserve members of the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) have announced they won’t serve if judicial reform continues.

“We have decided to contact you and inform you that unless the processes of the current legislation, which harms the independence of the judicial system, are shelved, we will not be able to continue volunteering for reserve service in the unit,” they wrote.

Leaders of the protest movement against reform have called for another “Day of Resistance” of demonstrations and road blocking on Tuesday.

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