By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
JERUSALEM (Worthy News) – Tensions remained high in Jerusalem’s streets early Monday as tens of thousands of people protested across Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister.
Yoav Gallant had spoken out against controversial plans to overhaul the justice system, saying they posed “a security threat” to Israel.
Opponents say the move is part of efforts by Netanyahu to evade justice for corruption charges he denies and to please his ultra-Orthodox and far-right backers.
The effort underscored a deep ideological and cultural divide in Israel between those who want a more secular and pluralist state and those with a more religious and nationalist vision.
Changes the government plans to enact would restrict the Supreme Court’s ability to reject laws passed by Parliament — circumventing a bill passed in 1992.
The measures would allow Parliament to override Supreme Court decisions and give the government greater control over the selection of justices.
Soon after the minister was dismissed for daring to criticize these plans, police and soldiers used water cannons against demonstrators near Netanyahu’s house.
Elsewhere clashes broke out, too, including in Tel Aviv, where protesters were seen starting bonfires on a highway. It was not immediately clear how many people had been injured.
The riots came after as many as 200,000 Israelis protested against the judicial reforms.
With tensions rising, the United States, a close ally of Israel, said it was “deeply concerned” about the developments and called for a compromise.
And Netanyahu’s sudden ousting of the high-level minister who opposed the changes prompted the Biden administration to issue an unusual statement of concern.
“As the president recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.
“Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support,” the spokesperson stressed.”
“We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.”
Still, Netanyahu’s far-right government was due to advance some of the most controversial elements of its proposal, commentators said.
Liberal opponents claim the proposal could have wide-ranging implications for minority groups in the country, including Palestinians living in the West Bank and members of the LGBTQ community.
However, it was unclear whether Netanyahu could restore long-term calm in Israel.
Military reservists have refused to sign up for duty, and many more have reportedly threatened to do the same.
Israel’s consul general in New York also resigned in protest, underscoring an ongoing debate about Israel’s judicial future.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.