AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg

Israel Engulfed In Protests After Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister Who Criticized Judicial Reform Plan

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Sunday night after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister after he criticized Netanyahu’s judicial reform plan.


Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Sunday night after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister after he criticized Netanyahu’s judicial reform plan.

  • In the Saturday statement that prompted his dismissal, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized his own government’s plan as a threat to national security. “The deepening split is seeping into the military and security agencies – this is a clear, immediate and real danger to Israel’s security. I will not facilitate this,” Gallant said.
  • The government’s judicial reform plans have led to nationwide protests across Israel. Gallant warned the protests, which have included military reservists, were also affecting the Israeli Defense Forces and undermining morale.
  • Netanyahu fired Gallant in a brief meeting on Sunday where the prime minister informed Gallant that he had lost faith in him as defense minister. The leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, condemned the firing as a “new low.” Shortly after his dismissal, Gallant tweeted, “The state of Israel’s security has always been and will always be my life’s mission.”
  • Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem, where demonstrators gathered outside of Netanyahu’s home. Police clashed with protesters in Jerusalem, where water cannons were employed to subdue the crowds.
  • Netanyahu’s newly elected right-wing coalition government is pushing to limit the power of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation. The plan would also democratize the Supreme Court by granting the Knesset more power to appoint judges. Under the status quo, unelected judges appoint their own members with limited democratic input.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • According to the Guardian, “Netanyahu’s move on Sunday underscored his determination to press on with the overhaul which has also angered business leaders and raised concerns among Israel’s allies. Gallant was the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against the plan.”
  • CNN reported the Israeli attorney general accused Netanyahu of illegal actions by getting personally involved in the judicial reform proposal. “Last night you publicly announced that you intend to violate the ruling of the Supreme Court and act contrary to the opinion of the legal advisor to the government,” wrote Gali Baharav-Miara on Friday. That statement, she said, “is illegal and contaminated by a conflict of interest.”
  • The New York Times wrote the “civil unrest” in the streets could be bolstered by other institutions in Israeli society. Universities have closed to encourage protests and top union leaders are considering launching a general strike.



  • According to the New York Post, the government proposals also include allowing the Knesset to override the court with a simple majority vote and limit judicial review. The plan has been criticized by several foreign governments including the Biden administration.
  • Fox News covered in more detail the implications of the judicial reform plan on Israeli national security. Nearly 300 reservists did not report to training earlier in March in protest of the plan, while hundreds more have signed a letter threating to not show up for duty.
  • Per the Wall Street Journal, nearly half a million Israelis have protested weekly for the last twelve weeks, a remarkable number in a country of 9 million people. Even so, Netanyahu just won a 4-seat majority in the Knesset, a relative landslide considering Israel’s intense polarization.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023