The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahuwho is on tour in the United Kingdom, dismissed his defense minister on Sunday, Yoav Galant.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to remove the Minister of Defense Yoav Galant”, announced the President’s Office in a statement.
In a speech on Saturday night, Galant, who belongs to the same party as Netanyahu, the Likud, said he fears that the division over judicial reform creates a “real threat to Israel’s security.”
The Minister of Agriculture, Avi Dichter, seems the favorite to succeed Galant. Dichter was director of the secret service for the interior of Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Shin Bet. However, Dichter has also raised his doubts about the risks to the cohesion and security of the country that going ahead with the judicial reform process entails. He could also occupy the post of Economy Minister, Nir Barkat.
Since the Netanyahu government presented in January a project of legal reform of the magistracy, the country is very divided and there are demonstrations against the initiative every week. This Sunday more than half a million Israelis took to the streets to protest.
The reform plans to increase the power of elected officials to the detriment of the Judiciary, which, according to its critics, endangers the democratic nature of the State of Israel.
“The security of Israel has always been and will continue to be the mission of my life”Galant wrote on his Twitter account this Sunday after the confirmation of his dismissal.
The day before, he had asked to “stop the legislative process” for a month.
“I am committed to the values of Likud (…) but the major changes at the national level must be made through consultation and dialogue,” said the former minister, before a key week marked by other legislative provisions and new calls for protests that are expected to be massive.
“Netanyahu can fire Galant but he can’t fire reality and he can’t fire the people of Israel who oppose the coalition madness,” the opposition leader tweeted. Yair Lapidwho the day before praised the “courage” of the dismissed minister.
The reform has aroused criticism not only within, but also outside the country. Even Israel’s main ally, the United States, has expressed “concern” over the reform.
Days ago, Netanyahu had announced a softening of the judicial reform plan, after the US president, Joe Biden, asked him to seek compromise and consensus in the constitutional crisis in which the country is immersed.
In the phone conversation, Biden said he would support a compromise on judicial reform and encouraged checks and balances to reach a broad agreement. Netanyahu, meanwhile, reassured the US president about the health of Israeli democracy.
The president, who has a parliamentary majority, was willing to ratify the reform package before the Knesset recess on April 2. However, most of them will be postponed until the legislative chamber reconvenes on April 30, Netanyahu and his religious nationalist coalition partners have said.
With information from AFP and Reuters
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