Netanyahu Faces Calls to Fire Defense Minister After Break on Judicial Reform

Yoav Gallant (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP / Getty)
Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP / Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing calls from parties within his governing coalition to fire Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, who called Saturday for a pause in ongoing judicial reform legislation.

In a speech Saturday, with Netanyahu still on a visit to the UK, Gallant called on Netanyahu and fellow members of his Likud Party to heed calls from the opposition to stop the passage of laws that would increase the power of the legislature relative to the judiciary.

As Breitbart News has reported, many of these reforms parallel existing practice in the U.S., and would bring Israel’s judiciary — which has claimed more power in recent decades — into line with international norms.

However, many secular Israelis of European origin have regarded the judiciary as their bulwark against the growing political and demographic clout of religious Israelis, and immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Gallant was reacting to ongoing protests by hundreds of left-wing military reservists, including pilots, who have refused to report for duty unless the legislation is halted. Their protests are affecting Israel’s military readiness.

Rather than firing the reservists, Gallant called on Netanyahu to heed their protest — and asked the opposition to tell the reservists to report for duty. But as of Sunday morning, Netanyahu had not yet responded to him.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a right-wing leader who serves as Minister of National Security, called on Netanyahu to fire Gallant, saying that the defense minister had betrayed the voters who had put him into office in the first place.

In the past, right-wing soldiers have reported for duty even when they disagreed vehemently with the policies of the government of the day, as in the 2005 Gaza “disengagement.” Today’s protest could shatter that precedent.

President Joe Biden has given tacit support to the protests, with the White House urging Israel to slow down its judicial reforms — ignoring that Biden himself has contemplated radical judicial reforms to the U.S. judiciary.

Israel’s opposition has called for a week of “paralysis,” as they continue protests in the streets with the aim of shutting down the government and the economy. It is unclear whether, or how, Israeli police will respond.

May observers note that Israel’s internal turmoil is coming at the worst possible time — with Iran nearing a nuclear weapon and increasing terror attacks by Palestinians. The State of Israel itself may be in grave danger.

Should Netanyahu fire Gallant, he would likely trigger a series of resignations from left-wing military officials. There could also be short-term damage to Israel’s economy, and some left-wing Israelis might relocate abroad.

But if Netanyahu listens to Gallant, his government might collapse — and Israel’s right-wing may decide that it, too, may desert from the military, disobey the government, and shut down the country if it does not get its way.

In the 75-year history of the State of Israel, the country has never been closer to civil war. The week ahead will determine if Netanyahu can save his country — with the opposition, and the White House, working against him.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This post has been updated to include the fact that Netanyahu was abroad when Gallant made his speech.


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