Protests break out in Israel as Netanyahu sacks defense minister
Tens of thousands of protesters have hit the streets across Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over his statement against the controversial plan to reduce the power of the country's judiciary. The police and soldiers clashed with protesters on Sunday outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, while many supporters of ousted Gallant gathered near the defense ministry in Tel Aviv.
Why does this story matter?
- Netanyahu—currently under trial for corruption—returned to power in December 2022, bringing the country's most far-right, religiously conservative government to power to date.
- The country's ruling dispensation and its coalition partners have been pushing for a judicial overhaul, claiming that the Supreme Court poses hurdles to their preferred policies.
- The proposed reform will reportedly elevate the role of politicians in the selection of judges.
Reportedly 7 lakh people joined the protests across Israel
President Herzog supports calls to halt reforms
The proposed reform, which is split up into a series of legislations, has triggered social polarization and worsened diplomatic ties and the market. President Isaac Herzog, echoing the concerns of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, and Germany, urged the government to halt the legislation on Monday, citing the importance of a strong and independent judiciary.
All Jewish people are looking at you: Herzog to Netanyahu
Bills to make Netanyahu's deposition difficult
The legislation will make it more difficult for courts to depose a leader who is deemed unfit for office. The bill's opponents, which include thousands of street demonstrators, military personnel, and working professionals, call the bill Netanyahu's ploy to absolve himself of the corruption charges. Its supporters, however, claim that in every democracy, the winners of elections elect judges, and Israel should follow suit.
Calls for halting bills from within Likud
Reportedly, two key members of Netanyahu's Likud party said that while they supported the latest bill, they suggested that the vote on the bill scheduled for later this week be deferred. Initially supporting Gallant's call for a delay, Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter later stated his support for the reform. Dichter—a former head of the internal security service Shin Bet—could be asked to replace Gallant.