Having just returned from a weekend excursion to Rome where he convened with his Italian counterpart, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was back on Sunday to preside over the weekly cabinet meeting.
At the meeting, which followed the demonstration of approximately 350,000 Israelis against Prime Minister Netanyahu‘s bills for reforming the justice system, he rebuked members of the opposition, insinuating that they were exploiting the reform for political purposes.
Netanyahu asserted that it is impossible to be in favor of the Israeli financial growth and at the same time urge funds to be removed from Israel. He further said that it is inconceivable to endorse the Israeli security and yet urge citizens to abstain from military service. Netanyahu also said that the main goal of the opposition is not to implement judicial reforms but to cause chaos and unseat the sitting government. He claimed that the proposed reforms are only being used as a pretext.
At the later part of the meeting, Netanyahu appeared to refer to the tension between Itamar Ben–Gvir, the National Security Minister, and Kobi Shabtai, the Israel Police Commissioner, resulting from the sacking of Tel Aviv‘s police chief and the subsequent reversal of the decision.
Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that the elected government has the authority to control the army, police force, and all other security entities, and that no other individuals will be able to dictate who is responsible for managing those organizations.
On Saturday, Israelis marched in the streets for ten weeks in a row, showing their opposition to Netanyahu‘s scheme to substantially lessen the power of the judiciary. It was reported that up to 500,000 people across the country participated in the demonstration.
Police estimates suggested that a record number of 50,000 Israelis gathered in Haifa, while approximately 8,000 people took part in a demonstration in Be‘er Sheva, traditionally considered to be a bastion of the Likud. Opposition leader Yair Lapid addressed the crowd and declared that Israel is currently dealing with its most critical crisis ever.