JERUSALEM (AP) — Tens of thousands of Israelis poured into the streets of cities across the country on Sunday night in a spontaneous outburst of anger after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly fired his defense minister for challenging the Israeli leader’s judicial overhaul plan.
Protesters in Tel Aviv blocked a main highway and lit a large bonfire, while police scuffled with protesters who gathered outside Netanyahu’s private home in Jerusalem.
The unrest deepened a monthslong crisis over Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary, which has sparked mass protests, alarmed business leaders and former security chiefs and drawn concern from the United States and other close allies.
JUST IN – Massive protest in Israel after PM Netanyahu fired defense minister who opposed judicial overhaul pic.twitter.com/q0Vdcm4U0m
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) March 26, 2023
Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signaled that the prime minister and his allies will barrel ahead this week with the overhaul plan. Gallant had been the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against it, saying the deep divisions were threatening to weaken the military.
In a brief statement, Netanyahu’s office said late Sunday the prime minister had dismissed Gallant. Netanyahu later tweeted “we must all stand strong against refusal.”
Tens of thousands of Israelis poured into the streets in protest after Netanyahu’s announcement, blocking Tel Aviv’s main artery, transforming the Ayalon highway into a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags and lighting a large bonfire in the middle of the road.
Demonstrations took place in Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem, where thousands of people gathered outside Netanyahu’s private residence. Police scuffled with protesters and sprayed the crowd with a water cannon.
Inon Aizik, 27, said he came to demonstrate outside Netanyahu’s private residence in central Jerusalem because “bad things are happening in this country,” referring to the judicial overhaul as “a quick legislative blitz.”
Protests growing rapidly in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities tonight over Netanyahu's sacking of Israel’s defense minister after he broke ranks and called for a pause on planned judicial overhauls. pic.twitter.com/X6uiwhhfz6
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) March 26, 2023
Netanyahu’s decision came less than a day after Gallant, a former senior general, called for a pause in the controversial legislation until after next month’s Independence Day holidays, citing the turmoil in the ranks of the military.
Gallant had voiced concerns that the divisions in society were hurting morale in the military and emboldening Israel’s enemies. “I see how the source of our strength is being eroded,” Gallant said.
While several other Likud members had indicated they might follow Gallant, the party quickly closed ranks on Sunday, clearing the way for his dismissal.
Galit Distal Atbaryan, Netanyahu’s public diplomacy minister, said that Netanyahu summoned Gallant to his office and told him “that he doesn’t have any faith in him anymore and therefore he is fired.”
Gallant tweeted shortly after the announcement that “the security of the state of Israel always was and will always remain my life mission.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Gallant’s dismissal “harms national security and ignores warnings of all defense officials.”
Avi Dichter, a former chief of the Shin Bet security agency, is expected to replace him. Dichter had reportedly flirted with joining Gallant but instead announced Sunday he was backing the prime minister.
Netanyahu’s government is pushing ahead for a parliamentary vote this week on a centerpiece of the overhaul — a law that would give the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. It also seeks to pass laws that would grant parliament the authority to override Supreme Court decisions with a basic majority and limit judicial review of laws.
Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore a balance between the judicial and executive branches and rein in what they see as an interventionist court with liberal sympathies.
But critics say the constellation of laws will remove the checks and balances in Israel’s democratic system and concentrate power in the hands of the governing coalition. They also say that Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, has a conflict of interest.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets over the past three months to demonstrate against the plan in the largest demonstrations in the country’s 75-year history.
Leaders of Israel’s vibrant high-tech industry have said the changes will scare away investors, former top security officials have spoken out against the plan and key allies, including the United States and Germany, have voiced concerns.
In recent weeks discontent has even surged from within Israel’s army – the most popular and respected institution among Israel’s Jewish majority. A growing number of Israeli reservists, including fighter pilots, have threatened to withdraw from voluntary duty in the past weeks.
Israel’s military is facing a surge in fighting in the occupied West Bank, threats from Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group and concerns that archenemy Iran is close to developing a nuclear-weapons capability.
Violence both in Israel and the occupied West Bank has escalated over the past few weeks to heights unseen in years.
Manuel Trajtenberg, head of an influential Israeli think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies, said that “Netanyahu can dismiss his defense minister, he cannot dismiss the warnings he heard from Gallant.”
Meanwhile, an Israeli good governance group on Sunday asked the country’s Supreme Court to punish Netanyahu for allegedly violating a conflict of interest agreement meant to prevent him from dealing with the country’s judiciary while he is on trial for corruption.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, a fierce opponent of the overhaul, asked the court to force Netanyahu to obey the law and sanction him either with a fine or prison time for not doing so. It said he was not above the law.
“A prime minister who doesn’t obey the court and the provisions of the law is privileged and an anarchist,” said Eliad Shraga, the head of the group, echoing language used by Netanyahu and his allies against protesters opposed to the overhaul. “The prime minister will be forced to bow his head before the law and comply with the provisions of the law.”
The prime minister responded saying the appeal should be dismissed and said that the Supreme Court didn’t have grounds to intervene.
Netanyahu is barred by the country’s attorney general from directly dealing with his government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary, based on a conflict of interest agreement he is bound to, and which the Supreme Court acknowledged in a ruling over Netanyahu’s fitness to serve while on trial for corruption. Instead, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a close confidant of Netanyahu, is spearheading the overhaul.
But on Thursday, after parliament passed a law making it harder to remove a sitting prime minister, Netanyahu said he was unshackled from the attorney general’s decision and vowed to wade into the crisis and “mend the rift” in the nation. That declaration prompted the attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, to warn that Netanyahu was breaking his conflict of interest agreement.
The fast-paced legal and political developments have catapulted Israel into uncharted territory and toward a burgeoning constitutional crisis, said Guy Lurie, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank.
“We are at the start of a constitutional crisis in the sense that there is a disagreement over the source of authority and legitimacy of different governing bodies,” he said.
Netanyahu is on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate affairs involving wealthy associates and powerful media moguls. He denies wrongdoing and dismisses critics who say he will try to seek an escape route from the charges through the legal overhaul. —— Associated Press journalist Tia Goldenberg contributed from Tel Aviv.
Justice Aharon Barak is responsible when he unilaterally made the court a legislative body too. Do not give a centimeter. The left in Israel , USA and elsewhere have no respect for voters , in fact intimidate them , and refuse even any conversation .
There can be no “constitutional crisis” in a country that has no constitution. There IS a crisis of governance- because the Left realizes that the days of unchecked power of the Supreme Court is coming to an end.
Compromise, based upon real democratic principles of checks and balances, can be discussed. But the demonstrations are mere manipulations by the power elite- to sow discord, fear and governmental paralysis. Who is really putting the nation at risk?
Bunch of lefties with the support of the crooked Israeli media want once more to worship the golden calf
Now doctors, tech research institutions, schools, labor unions all planning strikes tomorrow against pyromaniac BIBI!
“a spontaneous outburst of anger”. I would bet my house that there is nothing spontaneous about these protests. That is just not how protests happen.
Menachem Begin 1952:
“We have learned that an elected parliamentary majority can be an instrument in the hands of a group of rulers and act as camouflage for their tyranny. Therefore, the nation must, if it chooses freedom, determine its rights also with regard to the House of Representatives, in order that the majority thereof, that serves the regime more than it oversees it, should not negate these rights. It is possible to achieve this only through ‘supremacy of law,’ which is to say fixing the civil freedoms as the ‘fundamental law’ or ‘supreme law’ and permitting the panel of judges to cancel the validity of law if, in opposition to the fundamental law, it contradicts civil freedoms.”
— Menachem Begin, Basic Outlines of Our Life Worldview and Our National Outlook (Menachem Begin Heritage Center: Jerusalem,
When asked about the protests, Dathan and Abiram stated that this is what happens when the mob is ignored. Dathan was adamant that the calf wasn’t just symbolic, it was a new rule of law. Abiram and his best friend Korach are planning additional protests against leadership; each have said that Klall Yisroel had been betrayed by theocratic dictatorship.
Bibi in 2012
“I believe in a democracy, a strong and independent Court is what enables
the existence of all other democratic institutions,”
he said in 2012. “Every time a law comes across my desk that threatens to impair the independence of the courts, we will take it down.”
Unlike trump who believed that the hide. State would adhere to the new administration’s agenda Bibi needs to learn to rid his government of those that would want to destroy it quickly. Trump didn’t and that lead to major problems
Bibi the caver
Fascinating how people who live in Brooklyn and everywhere but in Israel should comment on Israeli politics. Come to Israel, serve in the IDF and then comment.
As predicted, Bibi is taking Israel down around his ears, just so HE won’t be prosecuted. That’s the only reason for the “judicial reform”. So the whole country should be destroyed just for HIM? It was better when we were stateless doormats, being persecuted and abused in every country? Soon BIBI’S coalition will crumble, or Israel will be destroyed by HIM.
Let them all scream and yell. Bibi needs to do what’s right for democracy and morally. My only issue with Bibi is how slow he is doing it. He has so move quicker or our enemies will mobilize against us