Israel is facing a political crisis that has sparked mass protests and warnings of a possible civil war. The source of the conflict is a controversial plan by the new far-right coalition government to overhaul the judicial system and give more power to politicians over judges. The plan has been opposed by a wide range of groups, including former military officials, civil society activists, and opposition parties, who fear it would undermine democracy and the rule of law in Israel.
The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, has tried to mediate between the government and the protesters, offering a compromise proposal that would preserve some judicial independence while allowing some reforms. However, his proposal was rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said it would not bring the necessary balance between the branches of government. Netanyahu has accused the protesters of being manipulated by left-wing and foreign interests, and has vowed to push ahead with the legislative changes.
The situation has escalated in recent weeks, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis taking to the streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other cities, demanding that the government withdraw its plan or resign. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, with clashes between protesters and police, as well as between supporters and opponents of the government. The president has warned that Israel is standing at the edge of an abyss, and that a civil war is within touching distance.
The crisis has also strained Israel’s relations with its allies, especially Germany, which has expressed concern about the erosion of democratic norms in Israel. Netanyahu visited Berlin on Thursday, where he met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who urged him to reconsider a compromise. Netanyahu defended his plan as necessary to restore public trust in the judiciary and to prevent judicial activism.
The current crisis is unprecedented in Israel’s history, which has seen several wars with its Arab neighbors but never a civil war among its Jewish citizens. The last time Israel faced such internal strife was in 1948, when it fought a civil war with Palestinian Arabs before declaring its independence and being attacked by neighboring Arab states. The outcome of the current crisis remains uncertain, as neither side seems willing to back down or compromise.