Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter and Likud MK Eli Dallal both said on Sunday that they would support the bill that would alter the makeup of Israel's Judicial Appointments Committee, despite calling publicly for the coalition to freeze the legislation in order to create broad consensus and despite Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's warning on Saturday night regarding the damage the bill's passage could cause to Israel's security.
"Dear friends, the state's security and unity of the people are always in front of me," Dichter said on Sunday. "I am acutely aware of the public's concerns, but there should be no doubt that my position is still that the reform in the legal system is crucial, and it will be completed!"
"I voted in the faction meeting in favor of the bill along with my colleagues, and this is how I will vote in the Knesset. I am coordinated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin," Dichter said.
"My friends in the Likud know very well that I will not give my hand to replacing the Likud's rule," the agriculture minister concluded.
A number of political analysts speculated that Dichter's pledge to support the bill may be connected to the fact that if Gallant resigns or is removed from his position as defense minister, Dichter would be a leading candidate to replace him.
Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid criticized Dichter.
"In order to become defense minister, Avi Dichter is endangering Israel's security and turning his back on the soldiers. He knows that the judicial overhaul endangers the national resilience and the security of Israel's citizens, but the job is above all else," Lapid wrote.
"My friends in the Likud know very well that I will not give my hand to replacing the Likud's rule."Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter
Dallal made similar comments on a Likud WhatsApp group, writing that while he proposed waiting until after the Knesset's Passover recess, which ends on April 30, he would vote according to the party's collective decision.
Edelstein and Bitan support Gallant's statement
Likud MKs Yuli Edelstein and David Bitan were the only Likud MKs to support Gallant publicly after his statement on Saturday night. However, neither Gallant, Edelstein nor Bitan said that they would vote against the law if it came up for its second and third reading in the Knesset plenum this week.
The coalition numbers 64 MKs. The bill does not require 61 votes, but the coalition wants it to pass with an absolute majority in order to deter the High Court from intervening in case of an appeal, according to Yisrael Hayom. It is not clear whether or not the coalition will bring the vote forwards for a final vote if it does not have 61 votes guaranteed.
Netanyahu refuses to convene security cabinet, former IDF chiefs allege
Former defense ministers and chiefs of staff Ehud Barak and Moshe ("Bougie") Ya'alon, as well as former chief of staff Dan Halutz, put out a joint statement on Sunday accusing Netanyahu of refusing to convene the National Security Cabinet in order to discuss the security ramifications of the Judicial Appointments Bill passing, despite respects by Gallant and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy to do so.
Sources confirmed that Gallant requested to present intelligence to the cabinet to support the need to pause the judicial overhaul, and Netanyahu refused.
"This is uncontrolled and unprecedented behavior of a prime minister in Israel, that testifies to Mr. Netanyahu's loss of judgment and capability to examine reality. As people who have stood at the head of the state's security systems, we demand that the prime minister already today convene the cabinet."
"As long as he avoids doing so, the prime minister will bear personal and direct responsibility for the unfathomable chaos that is occurring under his watch, and for the entirety of its consequences," Barak, Ya'alon and Halutz said.