Netanyahu sacks defence minister, sparking mass protests
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (26 March) sacked Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, triggering mass protests, a day after Gallant broke ranks with the government and urged a halt to a highly contested plan to overhaul the judicial system.
Some three months since taking office, Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious coalition has been plunged into crisis over the bitter divisions exposed by its flagship judicial overhaul plans.
In announcing Gallant’s dismissal, Netanyahu’s office did not name a replacement nor give any other details. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided this evening to dismiss Defence Minister Yoav Gallant,” it said.
Police use water cannons
Netanyahu made the decision to sack Gallant after the former navy admiral warned on Saturday that the overhaul plans risked “a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the state” and called for them to be halted.
Earlier this month, President Isaac Herzog, the head of state who is supposed to remain above politics, warned that the country faced “disaster” unless a broader consensus could be reached on how to overhaul the judiciary.
The United States said it was deeply concerned by Sunday’s events and saw an urgent need for compromise, while repeating calls to safeguard democratic values.
Watch: #Israel’s police use water cannons to push back protesters who broke barricades near Prime Minister Benjamin #Netanyahu’s house in Jerusalem, Israeli media reports.https://t.co/q2E3ka3Las pic.twitter.com/WconA1hppO
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 26, 2023
Gallant on Saturday became the most senior member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party to say he would not support the judicial overhaul, saying protests that have included growing numbers of military reservists were also affecting regular forces and undermining national security.