JERUSALEM — The Israeli defense minister, Yoav Gallant, called on Saturday night for his government to suspend its contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary, arguing that the turmoil it has unleashed within Israeli society and the military has become a threat to Israel’s national security.
“The rift within our society is widening and penetrating the Israel Defense Forces,” Mr. Gallant said in a televised speech. He added: “This is a clear and immediate and tangible danger to the security of the state. I shall not be a party to this.”
Mr. Gallant’s announcement set the stage for what is expected to be one of the most dramatic weeks in Israeli history. The far-right governing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has a majority of just four seats, is expected to hold a final vote in Parliament early next week on the first step in its overhaul plan: a bill that would give the government greater control over appointments to the Supreme Court.
The government’s proposal has led to weeks of mass protests, which continued on Saturday night; warnings of political violence and civil war; and unrest within the military, particularly among reservists. Thousands of reserve soldiers have said they would not report for volunteer duty if the overhaul goes ahead, or have already withdrawn from service.