Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Photo: Gil Cohen-MagenAFP via Getty
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday, a day after Yoav Gallant called for suspending the government’s judicial overhaul plan and warned opposition, including within the military, to the legislation was undermining Israel’s national security.
Why it matters: The sacking is likely to further enrage anti-government protesters and escalate the instability the country has faced since Netanyahu’s right-wing government unveiled the judicial overhaul plan earlier this year.
No Israeli defense minister has ever been fired three months after a government was formed or after warning that Israel was facing a grave national security threat.Driving the news: Gallant in a televised speech on Saturday called for the immediate suspension of Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul legislation, saying it had “created an internal rift that poses a clear and immediate threat for Israel’s national security.”
Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, was the most senior minister to publicly call for the suspension of the legislation. A vote on the first part of the judicial overhaul plan is expected on Wednesday.He had warned Netanyahu that moving forward with the judicial overhaul could lead to more protests among IDF reservists and even inside the regular army. Netanyahu has received similar warnings from the chiefs of the IDF and the Shin Bet domestic security agency.Behind the scenes: Netanyahu summoned Gallant for a meeting on Sunday evening and told him that he worked behind his back and against the government and the coalition with his speech on Saturday, a senior Netanyahu aide said in a briefing with reporters.
“The Prime Minister told Gallant that he lost confidence in him. Gallant didn’t coordinate his speech with the Prime Minister and sabotaged the efforts to reach a solution,” Netanyahu’s aide said.What they’re saying: “The security of the state of Israel has always been and will always be my life’s mission,” Gallant said after being fired.
A White House National Security Council spokesperson said the Biden administration is “deeply concerned by the ongoing developments in Israel…, which further underscores the urgent need for compromise.”
“As the president recently discussed with … Netanyahu directly, democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the spokesperson added.The big picture: Shortly after Netanyahu sacked Gallant, protests erupted in several cities across the country.
Thousands blocked the main highway in Tel Aviv, others rallied against the government in Haifi and thousands of protesters demonstrated outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.Asaf Zamir, Israeli consul general in New York, announced his resignation later Sunday, saying: “I can no longer continue representing this government.”Catch up quick: The judicial overhaul plan, presented by the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, has deepened political divisions in Israel and prompted mass protests.
The leaders of some of Israel’s closest allies, including President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, have expressed concerns about what the plan to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court would mean for the country’s democracy.The first part of the plan that is expected to be voted on next week would give the governing coalition an automatic majority on the panel that appoints Supreme Court judges.This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates. » …