Hours after his coalition passed a divisive law making it difficult to remove him from office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in a rousing televised address Thursday night to press ahead with an even more contentious judicial reform that has divided the country, stoked unrest in the military and led to mass street protests. .
Speaking on prime-time television, Mr. Netanyahu promised to move forward next week with plans to give the government greater control over appointments to the Supreme Court — definitively quashing rumors that had circulated all day that he was about to back down.
The speech followed a dramatic day in which thousands of demonstrators across Israel demonstrated against the plan, leading to confrontations with right-wing supporters of Mr Netanyahu and clashes with police, who sprayed protesters with water cannons.
The speech came just minutes after the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, met with Mr. Netanyahu to warn him about the impact of the unrest on the military, amid speculation that Mr. Gallant was about to speak out against the plan himself.
And all this came on the back of a vote in parliament earlier in the day, in which coalition MPs voted to make it more difficult to declare prime ministers incapacitated and remove them from office. The new law takes the power to remove the prime minister from the hands of the public prosecutor and the court and instead gives it to parliament.
Critics said the bill was intended to protect Mr Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption.