Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 7, 2024.
CNN  — 

More than 40 senior former Israeli national security officials, celebrated scientists and prominent business leaders have sent a letter to Israel’s president and speaker of parliament demanding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be removed from office for posing what they say is an “existential” threat to the country.

The signatories on the letter include four former directors of Israel’s foreign and domestic security services, two former heads of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and three Nobel Prize winners.

The letter blasts the coalition Netanyahu assembled to form the most right-wing government ever in Israel, along with his highly controversial efforts to overhaul Israel’s judiciary that they say led to security lapses that resulted in the October 7 attacks, the deadliest day in Israel’s history.

“We believe that Netanyahu bears primary responsibility for creating the circumstances leading to the brutal massacre of over 1,200 Israelis and others, the injury of over 4,500, and the kidnapping of more than 230 individuals, of whom over 130 are still held in Hamas captivity,” it reads. “The victim’s blood is on Netanyahu’s hands.”

The letter was sent to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday and to Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana on Friday.

Netanyahu’s popularity has fallen dramatically since starting his sixth term as prime minister, just over a year ago. Critics have blasted his judicial reform efforts – which threatened to trigger a constitutional crisis and divided the country, with months of massive, regular demonstrations.

“Leaders of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas,” the letter says, “openly praised what they correctly saw as a destabilizing and erosive process of Israel’s stability, led by Netanyahu, and seized the opportunity to harm and damage Israel’s security.”

Among the 43 signatories are former IDF chiefs Moshe Ya’alon and Dan Halutz, Tamir Pardo and Danny Yatom, who ran the Mossad intelligence agency, and Nadav Argaman and Yaakov Peri, who were directors of the domestic security service, Shin Bet.

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