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Israel’s crisis worsens after Bibi dismisses the defense minister

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu fired his defense minister, setting off widespread demonstrations and worsening a situation that might endanger the nation’s democratic institutions, economy, and national security.

Israelis have been organizing large-scale demonstrations against the hard-right coalition government’s proposal to restructure the judiciary, which it feels has grown overly intrusive, for months now. Opponents assert that this proposal, which gives the coalition government the final say in judicial appointments, will destroy Israel’s democracy and damage the country’s system of checks and balances.

Nevertheless, there are many detractors, including military reservists in elite groups who have declared their refusal to report for service. That caused such concern among military leaders that on Saturday, Yoav Gallant, the defense minister and a prominent figure in Benjamin Netanyahu’s political party, publicly urged the cabinet to postpone its reorganization.

I shall not be a party to this, Gallant declared, calling the idea “a clear and urgent and physical harm to the security of the state.” The next day, Netanyahu fired him.

Political unrest is detrimental to the economy.
Corporate elites rarely take to the streets to protest, but in Israel, this has been the case as the business community is concerned that the judiciary reforms will seriously harm the nation’s economy, particularly its renowned high-tech industry.

Israel has hailed itself as the “startup nation” for its renowned tech ecosystem, which produces unicorn after unicorn. But many business leaders contend that the government’s plans for Israel’s judiciary would weaken its legal institutions, possibly result in a credit rating downgrade, and stifle foreign investment, which these startups rely on. These business leaders range from CEOs of major banks to startup founders. According to The Guardian, foreign investors support 90% of Israel’s high-tech industry.

Even in the US, there are others who oppose the proposal. In a letter to Netanyahu, more than 50 eminent economists from prestigious US universities emphasized the need for an independent court for fostering economic growth. They said that his revamp “harms” the economy.

Looking forward

As the outcry grows, all eyes are on Netanyahu’s upcoming move. Starting today, classes at Israel’s research universities will be suspended indefinitely in opposition to the government’s idea.