(Jerusalem) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday after calling a month-long hiatus in the controversial judicial reform process favored by the government.
After the layoff announcement, thousands of protesters gathered on Kaplan Street in central Tel Aviv, the epicenter of weekly protests since the government submitted the reform bill in January. It divides the country.
The government’s reform, one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history, aims to increase the power of elected officials over magistrates, which, according to its opponents, undermines the democratic character of the Israeli state.
Mr. Netanyahu and his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies believe it is essential to restore a balanced balance of power between elected officials and the Supreme Court.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to remove Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from his position,” his office said in a brief statement.
In a speech on Saturday evening, Mr. Gallant, Mr. Despite being from the same right-wing party as Netanyahu, Likud said he feared continued divisions among people on the issue would “‘create a real threat to the security of Israel’.”
In Tel Aviv, protesters set tires on fire Sunday night, police said in a statement.
An AFP journalist noted that protesters had set fire to a sofa and elsewhere a tree. According to him, a large crowd took to the streets of Tel Aviv and demonstrators blocked the main highway through the coastal city of Ayalon.
Demonstrators armed with blue and white flags chanted, “Bibi Quit! “, taking the pseudonym Benjamin Netanyahu.
Other spontaneous rallies were held in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem and in other cities in the country such as Haifa (north) and Be’er Sheva (south), according to local media.
“The defense of Israel has always been and always will be my life’s work,” Yoav Gallant tweeted.
Earlier in the day, he called for a month-long “suspension of the legislative process”, ahead of a crucial week, which should be marked by other legislative provisions and new mass demonstrations, at the call of organizers of the protest movement. The country must be “paralysed”.
“I align myself with Likud’s values […] But major changes at the national level must be made through consultation and dialogue,” the minister said on Saturday, while calling for an end to the protests.
“Netanyahu can fire Gallant, but he can’t shoot reality and he can’t fire the people of Israel who resist the coalition’s insanity,” tweeted opposition leader and centrist Yair Lapid.
“The prime minister of Israel is a threat to Israel’s security,” he added.
Saturday evening Mr. He welcomed Gallant’s comments, saying, “Not brave […] For the defense of Israel.
Both Likud lawmakers tweeted their support for Gallant on Saturday, raising questions about whether the government could be trusted with a majority if it proceeded to a referendum.
Israel’s key allies, including Washington, have questioned plans to give more power to politicians and reduce the role of the Supreme Court.
Israeli lawmakers are expected to vote in the coming days on one of the central elements of the reform, a change in the process of appointing judges at the heart of its opponents’ concerns.
In a televised speech on Thursday evening, Mr. Netanyahu pledged to “end the divide between the people” while stressing his determination to push through reform.
The next day, he was called to order by the courts, which deemed his public intervention “illegal”, given his ongoing investigations into corruption.
The Supreme Court on Sunday gave the prime minister a week to respond to an NGO petition seeking punishment for “contempt of court” after the speech.
According to a petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, seen by AFP, Mr. Netanyahu violated an agreement reached with the courts, according to which the impeached prime minister is not allowed to act in an area. Given the 2020 Supreme Court ruling, that could put him in a bind.