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Updated Apr 10, 2023, 3:03pm EDT
Middle East

Netanyahu reverses decision to fire defense minister

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool
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The News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has decided not to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant amid the country’s escalating security crisis –– a reversal of an earlier decision to sack the minister that had prompted widespread protests across the country.

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Know More

In a news conference Monday, the prime minister said the two had resolved their differences after Gallant’s call to halt the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan spurred nationwide protests. Netanyahu also assured the public that he would “restore calm and security” to the country.

“There have been disputes between us, even difficult disputes on certain subjects, but I have decided to leave these disputes behind us,” the prime minister said.

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“Gallant remains in his post and we will continue to work together for the safety of the citizens of Israel,” he added.

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Step Back

Netanyahu’s right-wing government proposed overhauling the country’s justice system with legislation that would grant the executive branch more power over the judiciary, prompting three months of heated protests across the country.

Last month, he announced postponing the overhaul until the next Knesset session scheduled to begin in May. However, he asserted that judicial reforms will still pass in one form or another. His announcement to delay came after he moved to dismiss Gallant, triggering fresh protests outside the Knesset, along with labor union strikes and suspended flights from Ben Gurion Airport.

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The View From the U.S.

The American Jewish Committee, which has followed the judicial reform controversy closely, encouraged Netanyahu’s government and the Israeli opposition party to use the time to ”build a consensus".

“As a next step, we encourage all Knesset factions, coalition, and opposition alike, to use this time to build a consensus that includes the broad support of Israeli civil society. Israel’s political leaders must insist on a more respectful tone and debate,” the committee said in a statement.

U.S. President Joe Biden also stressed the importance — in both the United States and Israel — of an independent judiciary, and the need to reach a “consensus” on “fundamental changes” in governance.

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