The ongoing political crisis in Israel escalated on Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a critic of the government's contentious plans to reform the country's judiciary. Gallant, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, had urged a halt to the proposed changes, which have sparked weeks of protests and exposed divisions within the government.
Netanyahu's office released a statement announcing Gallant's removal, saying, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to remove Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from his post." This decision followed Gallant's Saturday speech, during which he warned that continuing with the judicial reforms could jeopardize Israel's security. The speech coincided with Netanyahu's official visit to the United Kingdom.
Three other Likud party ministers also expressed concerns about the proposed reforms. Economy Minister Nir Barkat urged Netanyahu to "stop and recalculate" the plan, warning it could lead to civil war. Thousands of protesters took to the streets following Gallant's dismissal, with some blocking a main highway in Tel Aviv and others starting fires.
An official from Netanyahu's office claimed the Prime Minister had lost confidence in Gallant due to the lack of prior consultation about the speech, which "sabotaged efforts to reach a solution." Gallant tweeted after his dismissal, "The security of the State of Israel has always been and will always remain the mission of my life."
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized Gallant's firing as a "new low," while opposition lawmaker and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused Netanyahu of putting politics and personal interests above Israel's security.
Israel's Consul General in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned in protest over Gallant's dismissal, stating in his resignation letter that the judicial reform plans undermined the country's democratic system and threatened the rule of law.
The judicial overhaul proposals, which grant the government control over judicial appointments and empower parliament to override Supreme Court decisions, have been met with opposition from both military reservists and critics who argue the changes would erode the foundations of Israeli democracy.