Netanyahu fires Israeli defense minister over judicial plan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday for breaking ranks over a controversial plan to increase government control over the country’s judicial system.

Netanyahu summoned Yoav Gallant, a former army general, to his office and told him “that he doesn’t have any faith in him anymore and therefore he is fired,” Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distal Atbaryan said.

The prime minister’s office didn’t provide further details, but the abrupt move came one day after Gallant publicly called for temporarily halting legislation that would give the parliament’s ruling coalition the final say on all judicial appointments.

The proposal — which has sparked massive protests and concerns from Israel’s allies, including the US — would also give the government the authority to overrule Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority and limit the ability of judges to review laws.

Protestors opposed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul block the main access road to Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Netanyahu wants a parliamentary vote this week on the judicial appointments provision –but Gallant urged that it be put on hold until after next month’s Independence Day holiday, citing divisions in the military.

“The growing rift in our society is penetrating the [Israel Defense Forces] and security agencies,” he said during a televised speech Saturday, according to The Times of Israel.

“This poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state. I will not lend my hand to this.”

A huge crowd of protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday
A huge crowd protests the judicial reform plan Saturday in Tel Aviv.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid called Gallant’s ouster a “new low for the anti-Zionist government that harms national security and ignores warnings of all defense officials.”

“The prime minister of Israel is a threat to the security of the state of Israel,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

Gallant’s firing also led Israel’s consul general in New York, Asaf Zamir, to quit on Sunday, tweeting that it’s “now time for me to join the fight for Israel’s future to ensure it remains a beacon of democracy and freedom in the world.”

Police use a water cannon against protesters blocking a freeway in Tel Aviv on Saturday
Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse protesters blocking a freeway in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

“Today’s dangerous decision to fire the Minister of Defense, convinced me that I can no longer continue representing this Government,” Zamir wrote in his resignation letter. “I have become increasingly concerned with the policies of the new government, and in particular, the judicial reform it is leading.”

Following his appointment in 2021, Zamir told The Post that his priorities included fighting “cancel culture,” saying it was part of his job “to explain the difference between, for example, criticizing Israel or objecting to their right to exist.”

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 has rejected accusations that he’s trying to overhaul the court system to evade justice.

Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, was the first member of the governing coalition to oppose the prime minister’s plan to overhaul the court system.

Two other coalition members have backed Gallant’s call for a delay and one more defection could cause it to lose its parliamentary majority, The New York Times said Sunday.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary Constitution, Law and Justice Committee — which is drafting the text of the proposed law — used its majority power to rapidly dispense with hundreds of objections on Sunday, the Times said.

Most of the committee’s opposition lawmakers were reportedly expelled from the meeting over accusations of disrupting the proceedings.

With Post wires