Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after he publicly opposed a controversial plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system. The move has sparked widespread protests and criticism from opposition leaders, military officials and Israel’s allies.
Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, had called for a pause in the legislation until after next month’s Independence Day holidays, citing the turmoil in the ranks of the military over the plan. He had said that the divisions in society were hurting morale in the military and emboldening Israel’s enemies across the region.
Netanyahu’s government is pushing ahead for a parliamentary vote this week on a centerpiece of the overhaul – a law that would give the extreme-right governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. The plan has been denounced by Israel’s attorney general as illegal and by many legal experts as a threat to democracy
Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday that he had decided to remove Gallant from his position because he had lost confidence in him. Gallant tweeted shortly after the announcement that “the security of the state of Israel always was and will always remain my life mission”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Gallant’s dismissal was a “new low for the anti-Zionist government that harms national security and ignores warnings of all defense officials”. He added that “the prime minister of Israel is a threat to the security of the state of Israel”.
Protest organizers called for a spontaneous demonstration outside military headquarters in Tel Aviv in response to Netanyahu’s dismissal of his defense minister. Thousands of people joined the rally, waving Israeli flags and chanting slogans against Netanyahu and his judicial overhaul.