Shlomo Karhi
Shlomo KarhiYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's speech on Saturday night, in which he called for the legislation of the judicial reform to be delayed until after Independence Day, led to a wave of reactions in the Likud Party that was split between firm opposition and even harsh criticism and support for his opinion.

Communications Minister Dr. Shlomo Karhi blasted Gallant and said, "I ask the voters of the Likud for forgiveness for our Defense Minister, who caved to the pressure of the left."

"The State of Israel is at a historic crossroads between democracy and dictatorship and its Minister of Defense chooses a dictatorship and gives a tailwind to refusal to serve and to a military coup. You don't cancel the people's decision in order to be embraced by the media and the elite. It's not democratic. It must not be permitted," Karhi added.

The Neemanei Eretz Yisrael (lit. Loyalists to the Land of Israel) group in the Likud, which includes thousands of Likud members and hundreds of Likud Central Committee members, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Gallant immediately. "Gallant did not internalize the Likud's values, failed as Defense Minister and may act as a fifth column to the Likud," they said.

"Gallant's short term in the Ministry of Defense teaches us that we have a new ‘Bogie’ [Ya’alon] in the Likud. Just as we removed Ya'alon from the Ministry of Defense and the Likud, so must Gallant be removed, and the sooner the better," added the group.

MK Moshe Saada (Likud) responded, "The Likud faction clearly decided that it is necessary to move forward with the legislation. If Minister Gallant does not believe in the path, he is invited to put the keys on the table and not do a 'Bennett act' to the millions of right-wing voters."

MK Dan Illouz (Likud) said he disagreed with the Defense Minister. "Gallant is a hero of Israel who contributed his best years for the benefit of Israel's security. I agree with the need for dialogue and with the attempt to bring things to a broad consensus. But, for three months now, we have been offering dialogue without an answer from the other side. Therefore, with great respect, I do not agree with his conclusion. The reform is good for Israel and it is precisely giving in to threats of refusal which is the most dangerous thing in the long term. This could be a very dangerous precedent."

MK Tally Gotliv blasted Gallant and said, "What is this weakness and surrender? It appears as though the handling with kid gloves and flattery from the left are more delightful than one can imagine. We must do everything to vote on changing the structure of the Judicial Selection Committee this week with a majority of 61, otherwise we will lose our status as a ruling party."

The Melukadim movement of the Likud rejected Gallant’s comments as well. "There is no place for stopping the legislation. We call on the Likud's ministers and Knesset members to come to their senses and understand that we have elected a right-wing government and there is no reason that threats of disobedience and anarchy should make them act contrary to the mandate that was given to them."

Coalition chairman Ofir Katz commented, "Whoever does not vote for the reform this week has ended his political career in the Likud."

On the other hand, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Yuli Edelstein, said that Gallant’s comments made sense. "I thank my friend, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, for joining the path I have been leading for weeks. The majority of the people want and understand the need for changes in the judicial system, but this must be done with patience and a broad dialogue in order to reach a broad consensus. The State of Israel is strong and will continue to be strong - together."

MK David Bitan (Likud) agreed with Gallant and said, "As I said a few weeks ago, the legislation should be stopped and immediate negotiations should be started and broad agreements should be reached."

MK Limor Son Har-Malech criticized Gallant's speech and said, "While two IDF soldiers are wounded by Arab terrorists in Huwara, Defense Minister Gallant is busy stopping the legal reform. Leading a lax policy in the face of terrorism, destruction in settlements, administrative arrests of Jews - and now a full-fledged surrender for the protests of the anarchist left. Gallant, you failed. Go home and leave it to us to repair the damage you caused."

Meanwhile, the opposition widely backed Gallant’s speech. Opposition leader Yair Lapid said in response to Gallant's speech: "Defense Minister Galant tonight is taking a brave and vital step for the security of the State of Israel. This coup d'état seriously harms national security and it is his role and responsibility to stop the dangerous deterioration."

"This is the moment of truth. I call on the government - stop everything, do not pass the change in the Judicial Selection Committee and the Deri Law this week, and come and hold talks at the President's Residence. Tonight I salute the hundreds of thousands of defenders of the land, the Israeli patriots who took to the streets to fight for Israeli democracy."

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman added, "I congratulate Defense Minister Gallant for his call to stop the legislation and expect the rest of his friends on the Likud to join and stop the madness. The time has come for the government to put the citizens of Israel at the top of the list of priorities and work to preserve security, the economy and the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and liberal state."

Former minister MK Matan Kahana (National Unity Party) said, "The leadership call of Defense Minister Gallant proves that for him, Israel comes first. I hope that many in the coalition will join this call. This is an opportunity for significant legal reform with broad consensus that must not be missed."

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel praised Minister Gallant. In a statement it published, the organization said, "The State of Israel is more important than petty politics and Minister Gallant has the ability to stop the destructive coup laws that threaten the image and future of the State of Israel. The movement calls on additional Knesset members from the Likud to issue Netanyahu a red card and call on him to stop the destruction of the Third Temple."