Netanyahu labelled a ‘dictator’ for firing defense minister over overhaul criticism

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired defense minister Yoav Gallant, a day after he called for halting the judicial overhaul, prompting political figures and former cabinet members to decry Netanyahu’s actions as “dictatorship”.

The Israeli PM office issued a one-line statement: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided, this evening, to dismiss Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.” It did not offer any more details.

On Saturday, Gallant publicly criticized the government’s controversial reforms of the judicial system, saying that “the legislative process should be halted.” He saw the overhauls as a danger to state security in light of the widespread protests within the ranks of the military.

He said members of the Israel Defense Forces were also protesting the reforms: “I hear their voices, and I am worried. The events taking place and the issues in Israeli society do not skip the Israel Defense Forces. Unprecedented feelings of anger, pain and disappointment have risen from all over,” the Times of Israel quoted him as saying.

Gallant said: “I see the source of our strength eroding… The growing rift in our society is penetrating the IDF and security agencies. This poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state. I will not lend my hand to this.”

Several Israeli politicians decried Netanyahu’s axing of Gallant, labeling him a “dictator” and a “danger to Israel.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, also a former defense minister, labelled Netanyahu’s firing Gallant as “dictatorship at its best,” Times of Israel reported. Liberman said: “The defense minister dared to express the deep concern of all the heads of the security branches over the disintegration of the IDF and fatal harm to Israel’s security.”

He added: “Instead of listening to [Gallant] and convening the cabinet, Netanyahu chose the path of all dictators — silencing voices.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid decried Gallant’s dismissal as “a new low for an anti-Zionist government that is harming national security and ignoring the warnings of all security figures.”

“The Israeli prime minister is a danger to the State of Israel,” Lapid said on Twitter.

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, Gallant’s predecessor as defense minister, said Israel is facing a “clear, immediate and tangible danger” to its security, Times of Israel reported. He added: “The danger has become worse. Netanyahu put politics and himself over security this evening.”

Netanyahu’s planned overhaul ignited opposition far and wide across Israel. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest against the contentious reforms, and several politicians, former cabinet members, and community leaders have publicly taken a stand against it.

The judicial overhaul will grant the government authority over the appointment of judges and restrict judicial oversight of governmental actions and laws. Netanyahu and his supporters argue that this strategy will reestablish equilibrium between the judicial and executive branches, curbing what they perceive as a court that leans liberally and tends to intervene.

However, opponents contend that this approach disrupts Israel's fragile system of checks and balances and catapults Israel towards authoritarianism.

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