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Israle’s fighter pilots boycott to protest against ‘judicial overhaul’

Israle’s fighter pilots boycott to protest against ‘judicial overhaul’

Posted March. 07, 2023 07:51,   

Updated March. 07, 2023 07:51


Amidst growing opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed legislation to curtail the powers of the country's judicial system, airplane pilots have now joined the boycott of the Prime Minister's plane. The legislation, if enacted, could result in a significant reduction of the judiciary's powers.

El Al, the national airline of Israel, announced on Sunday that there were no applicants for the positions of pilot or crew member for the prime minister's plane. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with his Italian counterpart, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, on Thursday, but the lack of available pilots or crew members has cast doubt on how he will make the trip. According to El Al, the reason for the lack of applicants is that not many pilots are qualified to fly the Prime Minister's Boeing 777 plane in the first place.

In addition, 37 out of 40 reserve pilots from the Israeli Air Force's renowned 69th Squadron have declared their boycott against a scheduled training session on Wednesday. The squadron is well-known for its involvement in the 2007 "Operation Orchard," in which a Syrian nuclear reactor was bombed.

Such movement is interpreted as a backlash against Prime Minister Netanyahu's attempt to weaken the judiciary under the guise of "judicial reform." The ruling party has been pushing for legislation that would prevent the Supreme Court from blocking laws that violate Israel’s Basic Laws and allow Knesset, the country’s parliament, to have a say in judicial appointments. The preliminary voting procedure for this legislation has already been completed in the Knesset.

However, the opposition, legal community, and civil society defined this as a "political coup" and have been protesting for over two months. At a rally last Saturday up to 300,000 people gathered to condemn the government's actions. Even reserve generals have declared their opposition. The social unrest surrounding the issue will likely persist for the foreseeable future.

Sung-Hwi Kang yolo@donga.com