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Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses defense minister who called for a halt to planned judicial reforms

Tens of thousands of Israelis flooded the streets of cities across the country on Sunday night in a spontaneous outburst of anger after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly dismissed the defense minister for challenging statements by the Israeli leader. let me judicial reform plan.

Protesters in Tel Aviv blocked a highway, lit a large bonfire, and police brawled with protesters gathered outside Netanyahu’s private residence in Jerusalem.

The turmoil has deepened a months-long crisis over Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judicial system, sparking mass protests, alarming business leaders and former security chiefs, and deterring from the United States and other close allies. caused concern.

Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant suggests the prime minister and his allies will aggressively pursue overhaul plans this week. Gallant, the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out, said deep divisions could weaken the military.

But as hordes of demonstrators flooded the streets late into the night, Likud ministers began showing their willingness to step on the brakes. He said the party would support him if he decided to do so.

Israeli media said Netanyahu coalition leaders are due to meet on Monday morning. Later in the day, grassroots protesters announced they would hold another large-scale demonstration outside the Knesset or parliament in Jerusalem.

In a brief statement, Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister fired Gallant late Sunday.

Protesters on Sunday blocked Tel Aviv’s main artery, turning the Ayalon highway into a sea of ​​blue-and-white Israeli flags and lighting a large bonfire in the middle of the road. Thousands of people gathered outside Netanyahu’s private residence as demonstrations took place in Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem.

12th week of protests against government's judicial reform plan in Israel
Aerial view of streets where Israelis continue to oppose the Israeli government’s plans to introduce judicial reform March 25, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Gitaiparthi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Police brawled with protesters and fired water cannons at the crowd.

Inon Ayzik, 27, said he came to a demonstration outside Netanyahu’s private residence in central Jerusalem because “bad things are happening in this country” and called judicial reform a “rapid legislative blitz”. .

The decision comes after Gallant, a former senior general, called for the controversial law to be suspended until after next month’s Independence Day holiday, citing confusion in military ranks over the plan. It was taken down in less than a day.

Gallant has expressed concern that social divisions are undermining military morale and encouraging Israeli enemies across the region. “We can see how the source of our strength is being eroded,” said Gallant.

Several other Likud members had hinted they could follow in Gallant’s footsteps, but the party quickly barred them on Sunday, paving the way for his dismissal.

Garit Distal Atbaryan, Netanyahu’s Minister of Public Affairs and Foreign Affairs, said Netanyahu summoned Galant to his office and said, “He is fired because he no longer trusts him.”

Gallant tweeted shortly after the announcement, stating, “National security of Israel has always been and will always be my mission in life.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said Gallant’s dismissal would “undermine national security and ignore the warnings of all defense officials.”

“Israeli prime minister is a threat to Israeli national security,” Rapid wrote on Twitter.

Asaf Zamir, Israel’s consul general in New York, said he would resign shortly after Gallant’s dismissal.

“Today’s dangerous decision to dismiss the defense minister has convinced me that I can no longer continue to represent this government,” Zamir said in his resignation letter. share on twitter“I have become increasingly concerned with the policies of the new government, particularly the judicial reforms it is leading. I believe it threatens me.

Avi Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet Security Service, is expected to replace him. Dichter had reportedly been toying with joining Gallant, but instead announced on Sunday that he was supporting the chancellor.

Netanyahu’s government is proceeding with a parliamentary vote, the centerpiece of an overhaul, this week. This is a law that gives the ruling coalition final say over all judicial appointments. It also seeks passage of legislation that gives Congress powers to override Supreme Court decisions by a basic majority and limit judicial review of laws.

Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore balance between the judicial and executive branches and curb what they see as interventionist courts with liberal sympathies.

But critics say the set of laws will remove the checks and balances in Israel’s democratic system and centralize power in the hands of the governing coalition. They also say Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, has a conflict of interest.

tens of thousands of people taken to the street The past three months have demonstrated against the plan in the largest demonstration in the country’s 75-year history.

Defense Minister Netanyahu sacked for criticizing judicial reform
Israeli protesters took to the streets after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Galan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after calling on the government to halt controversial judicial reforms, said a spokesman for Netanyahu’s right-wing conservative Likud party.

Photo Alliance for Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Leaders of Israel’s vibrant tech industry say the change would scare investors, former security officials opposed the plan and key allies including the US and Germany expressed concern. are doing.

In recent weeks, discontent has also grown within the Israeli military, the most popular and respected organization among Israel’s Jewish majority. Over the past few weeks, a growing number of Israeli reservists, including fighter pilots, have threatened to withdraw from voluntary missions.

Israeli forces face escalating fighting Occupied West Bankthreats from the Hezbollah extremist group in Lebanon, and concerns that arch-enemy Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapons capability.

Violence in both Israel and the occupied West Bank has escalated in the past few weeks to heights not seen in years.

Manuel Trajtenberg, head of the National Security Institute, an influential Israeli think tank, said: “Netanyahu can dismiss the defense minister, but he cannot dismiss the warnings he hears from Gallant. ‘ said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Good Governance Group will punish Netanyahu on Sunday for allegedly violating a conflict of interest agreement meant to prevent him from dealing with the country’s justice system while he faces corruption charges. requested the Supreme Court of the country to

The Movement for Israel’s Quality Government, which vehemently opposes reform, has called on the courts to compel Netanyahu to comply with the law or to fine or imprison him. He said it’s not above the law.

“A prime minister who does not follow the provisions of the courts and laws is a privileged class and an anarchist,” said group head Eliad Shlaga, a term used by Netanyahu and his allies against protesters against the overhaul. repeated. “The prime minister will be forced to bow before the law and abide by its provisions.”

The Prime Minister replied that the appeal should be dismissed and said there was no reason for the Supreme Court to intervene.

Netanyahu has been barred by the country’s attorney general from directly addressing his government’s plans to reform the judicial system based on the conflict of interest agreement in which he is bound, and the Supreme Court ruled that during Netanyahu’s trial Netanyahu admitted in judgment on suitability to serve.Corruption. Instead, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a close aide to Netanyahu, is spearheading the overhaul.

But on Thursday, Netanyahu said he was relieved of the prosecutor’s decision after parliament passed a law making it difficult to remove a sitting prime minister, vowing to face the crisis and “fix the cracks” in the country. Attorney General Gary Baharaf Miala has warned that Netanyahu is violating a conflict of interest agreement by joining the fray.

Guy Lurie, a research fellow at the Israel Institute for Democracy, a Jerusalem think tank, says the fast-paced legal and political developments are thrusting Israel into uncharted territory, pushing it toward a burgeoning constitutional crisis. said there is.

“We are at the beginning of a constitutional crisis in the sense that there are disagreements about the authority and legitimacy of various governing bodies,” he said.

Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases involving wealthy associates and powerful media moguls. He denies any wrongdoing and dismisses criticism that he seeks a way out of prosecution through legal review.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/benjamin-netanyahu-fires-defense-minister-yoav-gallant-israel-protests-judicial-overhaul/ Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses defense minister who called for a halt to planned judicial reforms

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