Israeli Air Force reservists threaten strike over judicial overhaul

Israeli Air Force reservists threaten strike over judicial overhaul
The reservists have also consulted with legal experts over the potential overturning of the use of the reasonableness standard by the country's courts.
2 min read
01 July, 2023
Israeli Air Force reservists have been particularly active in protests against the government's judicial overhaul [Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

A group of 110 Israeli Air Force reservists have written a letter to Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stating they will refuse to report for duty if the government's judicial overhaul passes parliament.

In particular, the letter criticised a piece of legislation that would stop the country’s courts from being able to overturn cabinet decisions based on them being unreasonable. The principle, known as the reasonableness standard, allows courts to block administrative decisions they deem political at the expense of public interest.

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi and Air Force Commander Tomer Bar were also addressed in the letter. Many of those who signed were involved in flight operations, as well as combat planning and flight control operations.

The reservists said:“We will not serve in the army of a country that is not democratic”, and that “if the legislation passes, we will continue to defend the State of Israel in the streets and [city] squares”.

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Further to the letter, Israeli Air Force reservists have also consulted with legal experts on the legislation that would block the reasonableness standard, meeting with Prof. Suzie Navot who served as a Yesh Atid representative in recent compromise talks. They are expected to hold further meetings to decide how best to continue their protest action.

Reservists, particularly those in the air force, have been active in protest against the judicial overhaul, with 200 announcing they would refuse to show up for reserve duty in April. The action led to the suspension of Col. Gilad Peled from reserve duty by Tomer Bar, who then rescinded the suspension after criticism from senior officers.

According to an internal assessment by the Israeli army, 1,000 pilots and navigators may resign from the military if the legislation is passed, with the assessment concluding this would have a detrimental effect on the capabilities of the air force.