Netanyahu Drops Firing of Defense Minister

'We continue together with full strength,' prime minister says of Gallant
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 10, 2023 5:50 PM CDT
Netanyahu Drops Firing of Defense Minister
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media Monday in Tel Aviv.   (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reversed his decision to fire his defense minister over criticism of the government's contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary. In a live press conference, Netanyahu said that Yoav Gallant is staying at his post. "I decided to put the differences we had behind us," he said. "Gallant remains in his position, and we will continue to work together for the security of the citizens of Israel." In a tweet showing himself sitting next to Netanyahu, Gallant wrote: "We continue together with full strength, for Israel’s security," the AP reports.

Netanyahu announced late last month that Gallant was fired. The decision set off a wave of spontaneous mass protests and a general strike that threatened to paralyze the country, forcing the Israeli leader to suspend his divisive plan to overhaul the judicial system. Netanyahu never sent Gallant a formal termination letter. As of Monday, Gallant—whose criticism of Netanyahu’s planned judicial changes led to his dismissal—was still on the job. Gallant's aides said it was business-as-usual at the Defense Ministry. Days after Netanyahu announced Gallant's firing, an Israeli police raid at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site triggered rocket fire at Israel on multiple fronts. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire at rocket launch sites and accused Hamas and Palestinian militant groups of being behind the attacks.

The judiciary crisis and other issues including his indictment on corruption charges in 2019 have distracted Netanyahu from his traditional focus on security and diplomacy, and many Israelis were concerned about the prospects of a vacant defense minister post. On Saturday, tens of thousands of Israelis took part in the 14th straight week of protests against the planned judicial overhaul. Organizers say the plan would diminish Israel’s national security by roiling the military and weakening the country in the eyes of its enemies. They also say that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest at a time when he is on trial. Netanyahu’s supporters say the plan is needed to rein in the powers of unelected judges. (More Benjamin Netanyahu stories.)

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