Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is likely to keep his job but will have to publicly apologize to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced on Sunday that he had decided to fire Gallant for publicly calling out the government to stop his judicial reform, Hebrew media reported on Friday. .
Netanyahu drew flak from Gallant for his prime-time address last Saturday evening in which he warned that the national divide over the overhaul “into the IDF and the security agencies,” was affecting his operational capability, and that it is a “tangible threat” to the national. security.
The prime minister took issue with the content of Gallant’s message, given Netanyahu’s desire to pass legislation that would severely limit the power of the High Court of Justice. But he was particularly furious about the timing – the defense minister delivered his speech during Netanyahu’s visit to London.
Gallant is willing to issue a written apology, but only for the timing of the speech, because he still stands by the original warning he gave a week ago, Channel 12 said Friday, without citing any sources. Channel 13 and broadcaster Kan gave similar reports, all without sources. Channel 12 said that an apology to Netanyahu would not be enough, and claimed, without elaborating, that Gallant would also have to declare his loyalty to Netanyahu.
For his part, the defense minister feels he had no choice but to make the speech after Netanyahu ignored his concerns for weeks about the damage the judicial reform has done to the military.
Last Thursday, Gallant had planned to give the speech he gave on Saturday night, but Netanyahu managed to convince him to withdraw, assuring him that he would indeed announce a temporary halt to the legislation. Gallant agreed to cancel his speech and stayed two more days, but Netanyahu made no announcement, prompting the defense minister to proceed with his original plan.
Less than 24 hours after Gallant’s speech, Netanyahu’s office announced he was firing the defense minister – a move that sparked massive spontaneous protests in Tel Aviv and across the country that continued into the early hours of Monday morning.
The protests escalated on Monday with a strike announcement by Israel’s largest labor union, including the grounding of flights out of Ben Gurion Airport, prompting Netanyahu to announce a temporary pause in the legislative push that evening, saying he would to give a chance to compromise negotiations. with the opposition.
The core legislation in the reform package, which gave the coalition almost complete control over appointments across the court system, was scheduled to be approved in the Knesset this week, but Netanyahu said he was suspending that bill and others to be promoted in the reform package. until the Knesset returns in a month after the Passover break.
Despite Gallant’s continued leadership and suspension of the legislation, Netanyahu has yet to forgive his defense minister for what he considers a betrayal. However, he has yet to sign a letter formally informing Gallant of his dismissal, which is required to finalize the decision.
The defense minister is therefore filling the position, serving in a kind of limbo, which critics say undermines the proper functioning of Israel’s vital security hierarchy.
Netanyahu is said to have come under pressure from several coalition partners, including Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, to keep Gallant as defense minister, while the Biden administration also expressed its concerns after the Prime Minister’s decision, although he did not comment on Gallant’s removal directly. Channel 13 reported that US officials are privately lobbying Netanyahu to keep Gallant on the job.
Channel 12 said the chief also wants Gallant to apologize for what Netanyahu feels is the defense minister’s failure to retain thousands of reservists, including many high-level fighter pilots, who threatened not to show up to voluntary active backup duty if a restore is run. Hundreds of pilots had already begun to be held back from attending some training sessions, a move that sparked widespread fears about Israel’s security.
Netanyahu argued that the defense establishment has not done enough to curb the phenomenon of what he calls “refusals” – a term disputed by the reservists, since they are doing voluntary service – allowing the military protests to spread. .
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has repeatedly spoken out against refusal to serve, but was careful not to criticize the leaders of the protests in the army, saying he feared the phenomenon would only expand.
Protest leaders have insisted they will show up when called for emergency duty, even if they don’t train, but insist the draconian measures they are threatening are the only way the government will take their concerns about reform seriously. and vice versa.
The attorney general has warned that the coalition’s current legislative package — which would give the coalition almost total control over all judicial appointments, and severely restrict the High Court — would give the government almost unlimited power, with no institutional safeguards provide for individual rights or individual rights. for the democratic character of Israel.