Israel Policy Forum urges the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu to pull back from the brink and halt the judicial overhaul proposals that are still being pushed forward notwithstanding overwhelming political and societal opposition. While the prime minister has every right to fire his defense minister, today’s sacking of Yoav Gallant following his warnings about the impact of the judicial overhaul proposals on Israel’s security and the IDF’s ability to operate goes beyond questions of coalition discipline and the prime minister’s political supremacy. Gallant’s warnings came on top of warning by IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, and firing Gallant for reasons having nothing to do with his performance as Defense Minister is the latest signal that Netanyahu is acting with dangerous disregard of Israel’s highest ranking security officials. As an organization dedicated to Israel’s security, we are gravely concerned about any measure that prioritizes a divisive political maneuver over security imperatives, and the judicial overhaul proposal squarely does so.

The U.S.-Israel relationship is actively suffering as a result of American perceptions that shared values between the U.S. and Israel are blithely being cast aside and that Israeli democracy is being downgraded for political gain. Removing the sitting defense minister – the Israeli official who oversees the active daily relationship between the two countries – particularly at a time when tensions over Ramadan are heightened and Iran is closer than ever toward nuclear capabilities is dangerous for Israel and dangerous for U.S.-Israel security ties. For the sake of Israeli security, Israeli democracy, and U.S.-Israel relations, we hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu decides to halt the judicial overhaul process in the Knesset in order to reassess his priorities and seek a pathway forward that does not tear Israeli society apart, place the IDF’s cohesion and capabilities at risk, or damage the U.S.-Israel relationship in fundamental ways.