WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Israel’s military personnel are threatening to refuse to show up for reserve duty if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul passes, with hundreds of senior officers signing letters saying it threatens to undermine morale and erode the country’s military capabilities.
- The judicial overhaul would allow a simple parliamentary majority to override Israel’s Supreme Court, limit its jurisdiction, and give the ruling coalition the power to appoint judges, leading to concerns that Israel’s courts will no longer be deemed independent and credible.
- Dissent from the military ranks raises the stakes for Israel, which is embroiled in several military confrontations, including with Iran, and reflects a growing divide in the country over the direction of Netanyahu’s government.
Dissent is growing inside Israel’s military over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial overhaul. Hundreds of senior officers, including from the military-intelligence branch, ground forces, and air force, have signed letters saying they would refuse to show up for reserve duty if the judicial overhaul passes.
The threats from reserve officers have further heightened tensions around the proposed legislation, which would allow a simple parliamentary majority to override Israel’s Supreme Court, limit its jurisdiction, and give the ruling coalition the power to appoint judges.
Members of the military who oppose the legislation say they are worried that they will be ordered to carry out missions that are deemed illegal by international law at the behest of what they say are powerful extremists in the current Israeli government.
They also worry that Israel’s courts will no longer be deemed independent and credible in the eyes of the international community, leaving the officers vulnerable to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The growing discontent among military officers led Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of Israel’s armed forces, to warn Mr. Netanyahu that the judicial overhaul threatens to erode Israel’s operational capabilities.
Israel’s army relies heavily on its deep and wide-ranging reserves, and officers who served in elite units are often called up for as much as a month of duty a year well after they finish their mandatory service. The protests in the security establishment follow similar ones by current and former senior justice officials, economists, and leaders of the country’s technology industry against the judicial overhaul.
Israel’s opposition leaders, who have opposed the judicial overhaul, have mostly come out against the calls to protest reserve duty. Both the opposition and governing coalition say they want to negotiate over the judicial legislative package.