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Defense minister blasts coalition over lack of response to judicial reform consequences

'During a storm, you should concentrate on your vessel,' Gallant tells the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits an army base near Jenin, July 4, 2023. (Photo: Shir Torem/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant condemned members of the government coalition who he claims made light of threats facing Israel's security following the reactions to the government's judicial reform,

He also criticized Israel soldiers who threatened to refuse to serve.

Gallant's comments were made during a closed-door meeting with the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to reports from Israel's Channel 12 news. 

The defense minister especially criticized the lack of seriousness his colleagues showed regarding the danger to the Israel Defense Forces combat readiness following announcements by military reservists that they would stop reporting for reserve duty to protest the Reasonableness Standard Law.

"The army is like an athlete who stops training – at some point, it gets hard to run marathons," Gallant said.

"An athlete stops training and after a week, he can still run, but not a month after that. The national defense depends on national resilience, which has a number of components, all of which are in a process of deterioration." 

"The Air Force is made up of two parts: American planes and Israeli pilots," Gallant told his colleagues. "If you have an alternative to one of them, let me know."

Some in the Knesset have also criticized the Biden administration's repeated commenting on Israel's judicial reform.

Gallant addressed former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, an opposition member, about the pilot's threats to boycott their reserve duty.

"I'll say something that I won't say outside: There is an unwritten contract between the state and the soldiers. We train pilots and expect that they will fly, as long as they are able to. It's forbidden to take your military position and to use it to influence the political system. This is insubordination."

Gallant is a veteran of the Israeli Navy's elite Shayetet 13 naval commando and used a maritime parable to urge Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members to focus on calming the current situation in the country and let the military focus on itself.

"I learned from experience that when you are sailing in a small boat, during a storm, you should concentrate on your vessel – and not on what you are doing to calm the storm."

Gallant is one of the most vocal coalition members about the judicial reforms and expressed his doubts about the government's plans for judicial reform early in the process. In recent months, has warned repeatedly about possible negative consequences for the IDF's combat readiness. 

Reports circulated in Israel media earlier in July that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored requests to meet with Gallant regarding the military reservist crisis.

At the end of March, Gallant publicly called to pause the reform plans and was fired by Netanyahu for the move, but was reinstated two weeks later after a public outcry.

Shortly after the contentious Reasonableness bill was passed into law, Gallant admitted voting in favor of the new law just so he could remain in government, saying, "It’s best that I stay at the wheel at such a time."

Gallant is reportedly attempting to establish a unity government with opposition leaders Benny Gantz of the National Unity party and Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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