Benjamin Netanyahu faces revolt from his own party against judicial reforms
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fired his defence minister after the latter called for controversial plans to overhaul the justice system to be stopped.
Yoav Gallant publicly broke ranks with the governing coalition on Saturday, calling for a halt to the judicial overhaul that has divided Israel on the grounds it is undermining the country’s defence.
“The growing rift in our society is penetrating the [Israel Defense Forces] and security agencies,” Mr Gallant said. “This poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state. I will not lend my hand to this.”
His comments came the day after Mr Netanyahu doubled down on passing a key part of the proposed legislation this week and expose inner rifts within the ruling coalition.
On Sunday Yuli Edelstein, a top politician from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party, also spoke out in favour of halting the planned judicial changes to allow for discussions and revisions.
Mr Gallant’s warnings that the proposed legislation – and the growing divide in society – could harm national security, has been widely echoed by opponents of the changes.
Mr Gallant called for the legislation, which aims to curb the power of the Supreme Court, to be paused for several weeks to allow for reforms. He was publicly backed by at least two Likud politicians, presenting Mr Netanyahu with the threat of revolt from within his own party.
In a brief statement on Sunday the prime minister's office said Mr Netanyahu "decided to relieve Minister of Defence Yoav Galant of his duties".
The dissenting Likud members have hinted that they may abstain from voting to ratify the bill, which is expected to come this week. If they do it could threaten the coalition’s parliamentary majority.
“We don’t want to bury the reforms,” Mr Edelstein said on Sunday, but “bringing it to a vote before it is clear that there is support for it would be adventurism that is best avoided”.
The package of reforms sparked unprecedented mass protests across Israel that have carried on unabated for over three months. Mr Netanyahu’s government has defied all calls, including from the Israeli President, to abort the shake-up.
Mr Netanyahu has not yet commented on the dissent within his party.