The former defense minister and head of the opposition National Unity Party Benny Gantz on Sunday said the proposed changes to the judicial system advanced by the right-wing and religious coalition is the first step to tyranny.
Gantz spoke to Ynet and said that the end to Israeli democracy is coming under Netanyahu's watch. "He will be judged by history," Gantz said.
The minister also condemned calls for violence from opponents of the government but said Israelis would take more steps within the law, to prevent the government's intentions.
Gantz suggested three principles he said should be included in any compromise reached on the government's proposed legislation: An immediate halt to the legislative initiative, de-politicizing the judicial system, and what he called a real reform to be made into Basic Law.
According to his proposed compromise, there would be no change to the current selection of judges or to legal councils to government ministries and no override clause that would allow the Knesset to ignore Supreme Court rulings by a majority of 61.
Once there is an agreement on the wording of the basic law, it should pass with a caveat that there could be no changes to the law for a period of five to seven years. "This should be all done in one phase without new changes to protect Netanyahu being tabled at the next opportunity," Gantz said.
When asked in the interview what would be the benefit of such a compromise to the prime minister Gantz said he was not attempting to solve Netanyahu's personal or political problem.
"The current proposal is a precursor to the government being able to pass any law without the court having a say in the matter," he said.
"This is tyranny and not a democracy," Gantz said. "The balance of power must be preserved, and Netanyahu as prime minister must be responsible for them," he said.
Do you think the military will stand by the prime minister?
I dread the moment that the constitutional crisis would be upon us when the courts rule that the government's actions are illegal, and the politicians insist on ignoring the ruling. I think then, the Chief of Military Staff will be in a real bind.
Are you concerned many will decide to refuse to comply with orders?
I hope not. The responsibility is on Netanyahu's shoulders. He is breaking down the systems and can lead us down these paths. Once we are faced with a constitutional crisis, I cannot say where it would end.
What is the next stage in the protest?
I guess we will see strikes, like the one we saw in the high-tech sector. The voters' voices must be heard beyond the ballot box. The government must listen to the voices of the public. Half of Israelis are opposed to this regime change, including many on the right.
Perhaps some will refuse to pay taxes?
Anything within the boundaries of the law would be legitimate in my view. But I call on Israelis to observe the law.
What of the positions of economists?
Netanyahu understands the economy, he hears the economists' warnings and should pay attention. Alan Dershowitz spoke clearly about this. What he is doing is changing the method of government and making himself ruler. That is not what Israel was founded for.
Why don't you join the coalition and remove the extremists?
I cannot be a party to what they are trying to do. Netanyahu knows this well. I will not join this government. I support Israel and not Netanyahu.