After Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister, Massive Protests Erupt
Tel Aviv (Israel): Protesters gathered on the streets in Israel’s capital Tel Aviv after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for challenging his judicial overhaul plan, Al Jazeera reported on Monday. Following the decision, tens of thousands of protesters blocked a motorway in Tel Aviv, while police clashed with crowds in front of Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.
The unrest exacerbated a months-long crisis over Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the country’s court system, which has given rise to mass protests, and alarmed the US and other close allies.
After #Israel’s PM Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who had asked for a halt of the planned judicial overhaul, protesters in Tel Aviv are blocking the Ayalon highway pic.twitter.com/rmQw0ZFOms — Mareike Enghusen (@Mareike_En) March 26, 2023
The White House in a statement released on Monday expressed concern over the firing of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and has said that there is an “urgent need for compromise”.
The White House released a statement saying, “We are deeply concerned by the developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise. As the President (Joe Biden) recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.”
“Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the widest possible base of popular support. We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible. We believe that is the best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens. US support for Israel’s security and democracy remains ironclad,” the statement further said.
According to Al Jazeera, the dismissal of the Defense Minister signaled that the Prime Minister and his allies will press ahead with the overhaul plan this week. Yoav Gallant called for a halt to the judicial reforms in a speech on Saturday, when Netanyahu was out of the country on an official visit to the United Kingdom. Some military reservists have committed to pulling out of their service in opposition to the plans, which critics have said would undermine the independence of the judiciary, according to a CNN report.
Yoav Gallant said going ahead with the proposals could pose a threat to Israel’s security. The statement by Gallant, who is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, upset Israel’s coalition government.
An official in Netanyahu’s office said the Israel PM had lost confidence in Gallant, adding that he had not cleared the statement in advance and had “thus sabotaged efforts to reach a solution.”
Meanwhile, Israel`s Consulate General in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned after Netanyahu`s decision to fire Gallant. In his resignation letter posted on Twitter, Zamir termed it a “dangerous decision.”