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Netanyahu dismisses Defense Minister for distancing himself from judicial reform


Yoav Gallant was the first member of the Government to publicly ask that the controversial legal change be stopped. Thousands of Israelis are already demonstrating in the streets against the cessation

Twelve weeks after its presentation and massive demonstrations, the judicial reform in Israel claimed its first political victim this Sunday, with the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant by the head of government, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The announcement statement reads simply "The Prime Minister has decided this afternoon to dismiss Defense Minister Yoav Gallant."

The reason, however, is no secret.

After weeks privately conveying to Netanyahu his concern about the consequences for Israel's security that the political and social schism generated by the reform is having (including the refusal of hundreds of Army reservists to carry out certain tasks), Gallant left on Saturday to publicly ask for its stoppage.

to get ahead,

the controversial legal change would weaken the separation of powers to the benefit of the Executive.

His first law was already approved on Thursday.

The announcement has brought thousands of people to the streets in Tel Aviv, the epicenter of the protest and where numerous cars honk their horns as they pass and shouts of "democracy" and "To Ayalón, to Ayalón", the important highway that demonstrators usually cut.

There are also protests in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva and Petah Tikva.

Shortly after the dismissal, Netanyahu and Gallant have coincided in making two very brief tweets.

The first has written: "We must all stand up forcefully against refusals to serve [in the army]."

The second: "The security of the State of Israel has always been and always will be my vital mission", in a message crowned by the national flag.

In Tel Aviv, thousands of citizens reacted to the dismissal with a new protest, in which they blocked the Ayalon highway.

One of the most listened to chants was “Bibi (as Netanyahu is popularly known), go home”, in addition to the usual “Democracy or rebellion” or “Shame”.

Most of the protesters were young to middle age.

This Saturday, as tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated (at least 200,000 in Tel Aviv alone) in one of the largest protests against the reform, Gallant - a respected general in the reserve who had been hearing numerous complaints within the army - appeared on television to emphasize that he was witnessing these days the "erosion" of the source of the "strength" of the State of Israel, whose security, he said, is its "vital mission".

“The growing schism in our society is penetrating the Armed Forces and the security forces, which poses a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the State.

I will not allow it, ”he stressed.

Demonstration in Tel Aviv, this Sunday night. Antonio Pita

"The dimension that feelings of anger, disappointment and fear have reached has never been seen before," lamented the minister, recalling that the Armed Forces "have not been left out" of the political and social crisis generated by the reform, which It seeks to weaken the Supreme Court, change the method of electing its judges and allow Parliament to reapprove laws previously overthrown by the magistrates, who have that power in the style of the Constitutional Court in Spain.

Israel does not have a Constitution, but it is guided by a series of basic laws and the Supreme Court has the power to interpret whether a regular law violates them.

Gallant spoke of "unprecedented" security challenges coming "from near and far" and which he has privately detailed to Netanyahu.

“Now, I say it publicly: for the safety of Israel, for our sons and daughters, we must stop the legislative process and allow the Israeli nation to celebrate Pesach (Passover) and Independence Day together, and mourn together. on Remembrance Day [to fallen soldiers] and Holocaust Remembrance.”

In recent days, the fear had spread that these anniversaries - which coincide next month - will be celebrated under the shadow of the division.

Some relatives of dead soldiers have told the press that they will be absent from the central act.

The former prime minister and current leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, has reacted on Twitter to the announcement: "Netanyahu can stop Gallant, but he cannot stop the reality or the people of Israel who are facing the follies of this coalition."

Gallant's public standoff was not only the first within the Executive and the most important within Likud, the right-wing party led by Netanyahu, but also the most expected.

The former minister supports the concept of the law and made it clear in his speech that he continues to consider himself to be on the right.

But it is also the window to which his former colleagues in the army present their complaints and fears and the one that receives the most information on the scope of the "rebellion" in the Armed Forces.

It's not just the growing number of reservists, it's also serving soldiers who are determined to obey just a few orders if the reform goes ahead, according to local media.

Connection with the military field

This connection with the military sphere differentiates him from fellow party members, such as Yariv Levin (Justice), who leads the reform and who has been obsessed with the composition of the court since the beginning of his political career.

Or the ministers of Religious Zionism and Jewish Power, the far-right coalition partners who have had the Supreme Court in their sights for years.

Yoav Gallant, on March 9 at the Ben Gurion airport. AMIR COHEN (REUTERS)

The local press speculated this Sunday, before the announcement of the dismissal, with the possibility that Avi Dijter, who holds the portfolio of Agriculture and Rural Development, will occupy the position.

Dijter has come out during the day to express his support for the reform.

The alignment with Netanyahu suggests that the promise of the portfolio (juicy and respected in Israel) could be behind the change with respect to the position that the media ascribed to him just a day before.

After Gallant's speech, he was placed in the

rebel bloc

, as one of the few members of the Executive —made up of Likud and the ultranationalist parties Religious Zionism and Jewish Power and the ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism— to have transferred behind the scenes his disagreement with the way in which managing the legislative package.

Only two Likud MPs who had already made their opposition clear came out to support Gallant.

Yuli Edelstein, who thanked him for having "joined the path" that he had been leading for weeks and is sanctioned by the party for having missed two votes.

And David Bitán, who called on Twitter for “immediate negotiations” to reach “broad agreements” and expressed his “support for the words” of his “friend of the Minister of Defense”.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-26

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