On Sunday, the Israeli consul general in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned from his post in protest against the judicial reform desired by right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has been at the center of extensive and well-attended demonstrations throughout the country for weeks. Zamir decided to resign in particular after the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, decided by Netanyahu himself due to criticisms that Gallant had addressed to the reform.
Announcing his resignation with a letter made publicZamir said, “I believe this reform undermines our democratic system and threatens the rule of law in our country.”
Zamir added that Gallant’s dismissal convinced him that “he can no longer continue to represent this government”, and said: “I think the time has come for me to act and join the battle of my fellow citizens for the future of Israel”. The Israeli political situation “has reached a critical point,” he said.
The past 18 months as Israel’s Consul General in New York were fulfilling and rewarding, but following today’s developments, it is now time for me to join the fight for Israel’s future to ensure it remains a beacon of democracy and freedom in the world. Here is the letter I sent: pic.twitter.com/Sfz8y3ALLv
– Asaf Zamir (@AmbAsafZamir) March 26, 2023
A few days ago Zamir was summoned by the Israeli Foreign Minister to Jerusalem following some very explicit criticisms he had leveled at Netanyahu during the Jewish Museum’s annual fundraising event in New York. Addressing the hundreds of influential donors present in the room, Zamir said he was “very concerned about the direction the country is taking”.
– Read also: Netanyahu sacked the defense minister
Zamir had been appointed consul general of New York in October 2021 by then Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, currently leader of the opposition to Netanyahu: he had been the first Israeli diplomat to publicly criticize Netanyahu’s judicial reform.
In addition to Zamir’s resignation, the sacking of Defense Minister Gallant has led to new widespread protests across the country, in which tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets.
The reform proposed by Netanyahu, a first part of which has already been approved, removes powers from the Supreme Court to entrust them to the government: it provides, among other things, for the government to appoint judges to the Supreme Court, the removal of some control systems judicial system on the government and in general a wider freedom of the executive on the appointment of judges. The reform is hotly contested because in Israel, where there is no real constitution, the Supreme Court has an exceptionally important role and is one of the few counterweights to the power of the incumbent government.
– Read also: Judicial reform in Israel, explained
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