Benjamin Netanyahu fires Defence Minister

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has fired his defence minister who called yesterday for a pause on proposed law reducing the power of the Judiciary that has caused millions to take to the streets.

News is breaking this evening that Benjamin Netanyahu has fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

In a brief statement, the Prime Minister’s Office says Netanyahu has decided to transfer Gallant from his post.

Galant who is a member of Netanyahu’s own right-wing Likud party broke ranks yesterday and in a speech called for a pause to proposed legislation that would give politicians more power over the judiciary and essentially reduce the power of the Supreme Court. Netanyahu was out of the country on an official visit to the United Kingdom.

“We must stop the legislative process” for a month in view of the divisiveness of the reforms.

The growing social rift has made its way into the army and security agencies. It is a clear, immediate and tangible threat to Israel’s security,” Galant said.

“I am committed to Likud values … and placing the State of Israel above all … but major changes on the national level must be made through deliberations and dialogue,” he added.

A vote is scheduled for next week on a central part of the government’s proposals, which would change the way judges are appointed.

Protesters  have announced a “national paralysis week”, including countrywide rallies, protests outside ministers’ homes and on Wednesday outside parliament.

It’s estimated that the crowd that gathered yesterday to demonstrate in Tel Aviv was the largest ever held in the capital.

The Times of Israel reported this evening that protests against the planned changes to the judicial system are now also being held outside the homes of Likud MKs Yuli Edelstein and Danny Danon.

In other news the Israel Defense Forces says it is delaying a two-day workshop session for members of the General Staff, to allow for the senior officers to discuss the judicial overhaul with their respective units.

Acclaimed Israeli singer, Shlomo Artzi announced today that he will forgo the Israel Prize in Hebrew music, citing divisions over the government’s contentious legislation to radically change the judicial system.

In a statement, Artzi says, “At the current time, when our country is hurt and torn,” he feels deeply uncomfortable receiving the prize and would therefore “give up this great up honor.”