Former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff again tells Israelis to ‘paralyze the country’ in protest

Separately, former prime minister Yair Lapid calls for a public referendum on judicial reform, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The former deputy economy minister, who also served as the IDF deputy chief of staff, called on Sunday for all those against the government’s planned judicial reform to ‘paralyze the country’ with strikes, and not only attend demonstrations, Ynet reported.

Interviewed on the news site’s radio, Yair Golan, who was a Meretz MK in the previous coalition praised the protest of an estimated 80,000 people in Tel Aviv Saturday night, but said it was not enough.

Repeating his appeal last week for a massive, orchestrated campaign of civil disobedience, Golan said, “I’m calling for the widespread use of the two tools that citizens have who are not willing to wake up one morning and find out that they’re no longer living in a democracy … the right to demonstrate and the right to strike.

“We’ll protest in much greater strength, and not just on Saturday nights, and we’ll strike in a way that paralyzes the country until this evil government understands that it’s impossible to simply cancel democracy.”

Rejecting the government’s contention that what it is planning is a long-overdue reform of a system where unelected judges decide what laws can and can’t be passed, he said that Justice Minister Yariv Levin “is trying to smash the legal system [and] turn Israel into an undemocratic state.”

Golan claimed that the minister, who is a lawyer, either “doesn’t understand the judicial system” or he “understands it very well and intends for Israel to be a dictatorship.”

Referring to a short shut-down last week of the courts to protest the government’s plan, the left-wing politician said, “The lawyers’ strike at the end of last week is a small thing. More and more sectors will say, ‘Thank you very much, we’re not ready for them to steal our country and won’t cooperate with it’. That’s all. We don’t need more than that.”

In a separate Ynet interview, former prime minister Yair Lapid called for the government to allow the public to decide if they are in favor of the suggested legal changes, because, he said, “the people didn’t know” what the right-wing was going to do if it won.

“I have a proposal for them,” he said. “They say the people are with them? Let’s hold a referendum on this before deciding. It’s reasonable that before we decide to turn Israel from a democracy into a non-democratic state that we go to the people and ask them, right?”

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At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately turned down the idea, reiterating the government’s response to the charges being leveled against it.

“Two months ago, there was a huge demonstration in Israel, the mother of all demonstrations,” he said. “Millions of citizens voted in the elections, and one of the main issues was reforming the judicial system.”

“We said it innumerable times, millions of citizens knew about this intention, and moreover – they demanded it of us…. We wanted to return the balance between all the branches, that had existed in Israel for 50 years, and that exists in every democracy around the world,” Netanyahu added.

Golan’s Meretz party currently has no MK’s in the Knesset as the party failed to pass the electoral threshold.