Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night spoke to NBC News, answering questions about the judicial reform and the opposition to its legislation.
When asked whether Israeli President Isaac Herzog's prediction of civil war would come to pass, Netanyahu said, "There won’t be civil war, I guarantee you that. But I think that correcting the imbalance in Israel's democracy, where the judiciary has basically arrogated to itself nearly all the powers of the executive branch and the legislature - I think yes it is important to do it. I think when the dust settles people will see that Israel's democracy has been strengthened and not weakened, and I think people's fears that have been stoked and whipped up I think will subside and they'll see that Israel is just as democratic as it was before, and even more democratic.
When asked whether he would abide by a Supreme Court ruling invalidating the amendments to Basic Law: The Judiciary's reasonableness standard, Netanyahu said, "I think we'll have to follow two rules: One is, Israeli governments abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court. And at the same time, the Supreme Court respects the Basic Laws, which are the closest thing we have to a constitution. I think we should keep both principles, and I hope we do."
When pressed, Netanyahu repeated, "Remember what I said, I hope that they don't strike down, because I think we should abide by BOTH rules."
He added, "It would be in American terms, as though the Supreme Court that is charged with keeping the constitution would nullify a constitutional amendment as unconstitutional. So it sort of turns on itself and it doesn't - it doesn't make sense. I hope it doesn't happen."
"The Supreme court in Israel itself said that the Basic Laws that are passed by a super-majority in the Knesset, or not an incidental majority in the Knesset, is the basis of the constitution, they call it a constitution," he explained, noting, "By the Supreme Court's own definition, this Basic Law that they are now dealing with is part of our constitution."
When asked about the reservists' refusal to serve, Netanyahu told NBC, "I think it's unfortunate that you've had reservists being lined up for something that involves a political debate."
"I just think it's wrong. I think it's wrong to rope in people into a political debate, I think it politicizes the military, I think most people understand that and most people are opposed to it."
He emphasized that in his opinion, it was important to pass the changes to the reasonableness standard "in order to make clear that the government does not abide by the dictates of former generals or people in the military or in the military reserves. Because once Israel goes down that path and former generals can tell you, 'Listen, if you pass this legislation or if you don't do as we say we're going to incite military disobedience' - then Israel stops being a democracy. That's the real threat to democracy and I think we can't accept it."