Netanyahu fires defense minister who urged a halt to overhaul of Israel’s judiciary

By  The Associated Press

Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators blocking the freeway during a protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to overhaul the judicial system in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday.
Ariel Schalit/AP

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday, a day after the former army general called for a halt to the planned overhaul of Israel’s judiciary that has fiercely divided the country.

The move signals the prime minister will move ahead this week with plans for the overhaul, which has sparked widespread opposition. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, military and business leaders have spoken out against it and leading allies of Israel have voiced concerns.

Outgoing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a former army general, is a senior member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party. On Saturday, he called for a pause in the controversial legislation until after next month’s Independence Day holidays, citing the rift’s threat to Israel’s national security.

Netanyahu’s office did not provide further details over the firing. Galit Distal Atbaryan, Netanyahu’s public diplomacy minister, said that the prime minister summoned Gallant to his office and told him “that he doesn’t have any faith in him anymore and therefore he is fired.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Gallant’s dismissal was a “new low for the anti-Zionist government that harms national security and ignores warnings of all defense officials.”

“The prime minister of Israel is a threat to the security of the state of Israel,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

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