Netanyahu delays firing of dissenting Defence Minister Gallant

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to delay the firing of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in light of ongoing security tensions, Israel’s public broadcaster reports.

With tensions running high during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish Passover, and continuing concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, public broadcaster Kan reported on Monday that Netanyahu had decided to hold off on the minister’s dismissal, which the prime minister had announced more than a week ago.“Due to the evolving security situation, Netanyahu will attend to the matter of the defence minister down the line,” the broadcaster cited a political source as saying.

On March 26, Netanyahu announced that he had sacked Gallant, a day after the minister spoke out against the government’s planned judicial overhaul. Protests erupted, and despite Netanyahu’s announcement, the defence chief remained in his position.

Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, became the first minister to break ranks with the prime minister by calling for the legislation to overhaul Israel’s judiciary to be frozen.

The plan, which critics say will give the far-right government more power over the Supreme Court, sparked mass protests across Israel, angered military and business leaders, and raised concerns among Israel’s allies.Gallant had reportedly voiced concerns that the divisions in Israeli society were hurting morale in the military and emboldening the country’s rivals across the region.

“I see how the source of our strength is being eroded,” Gallant said.Netanyahu and his allies have argued that the proposed judicial changes would restore 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 amendments will remove the checks and balances in Israel’s democratic system and concentrate power in the hands of the governing coalition, which is now the most far right in Israel’s history.

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