Israel’s domestic turmoil will not drag the country into a civil war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, as he emphasized his commitment to achieving consensus for his judicial reform plan.
Quoting former prime minister Menachem Begin, Netanyahu stated: “Civil War – never,” but “national unity – absolutely,” when speaking at a memorial ceremony of those killed defending Jaffa in 1948.
"Civil war - never. National unity - absolutely."Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu defends judicial reform in interview to NBC's Meet The Press
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press earlier in the day, Netanyahu defended his judicial overhaul program, which many in Israel fear would transform the country from a democracy into a dictatorship.
The prime minister emphasized that he was committed to finding a consensus approach, a reference to talks led by President Isaac Herzog that have taken place during the Knesset’s recess when work on the judicial reform plan has been halted.
“I’ve decided to take a time out, [to] try to get a balance between the opposing views – and there are strongly opposing views on both sides of our society – and I hope to reach this by consensus,” Netanyahu said. “I think that’s actually the right thing to do, and I’m doing it.”
He rejected the contention that the judicial reform plan, which he believes would strengthen Israeli democracy, had harmed Israel’s relationship with the United States – despite US President Joe Biden’s refusal to host him in the White House in the near future.
The relationship is particularly strong on security issues, Netanyahu told NBC. “When I compare the degree of coordination between Israel and America on security matters, on intel, on cyber, economical operations... there’s just no comparison to where this was 27 years ago,” he said. “I always say America is Israel’s indispensable, and by far the best, ally.”
NBC asked the prime minister about the intelligence leak which indicated that Mossad had urged its members to join the judicial overhaul protests.
Netanyahu dismissed the report, saying that it was a misunderstanding that stemmed from a legal opinion that stated that only junior Mossad members could protest.
“I think the Mossad, the military [and] our internal security services are working hand in hand with me as prime minister to assure the security of the country,” he said. “And they’re doing a damn good job of it, too.”