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Future of Israel’s fired defense minister unclear as coalition, opposition members call to reverse the dismissal

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has yet to sign letter officially terminating Gallant’s role

Minister of Defense Yoav Galant arrives for a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Mar. 27, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is still officially in his ministerial role, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcing his dismissal on Sunday. 

Netanyahu fired Gallant, a Likud party member, saying he had “lost trust” in the defense minister after Gallant made a public call to pause the judicial reforms legislation moving through the Knesset in order to engage in dialogue with the opposition. 

Gallant’s dismissal was considered controversial, even within the ruling coalition, but reactions from beyond the coalition were even stronger. Following the announcement, a new round of protests began Sunday night, and the following day, a general strike shut down large parts of the country, including Ben-Gurion International Airport and Israel’s research universities. 

Monday night, after Netanyahu announced a pause of the judicial reform legislation, many began to call for Gallant to be restored to his role. 

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz called the prime minister after his announcement, thanking him for halting the legislation and calling on him to restore Gallant to his position, saying it would be “essential for national security and to calm the spirits at this time.” 

Gantz said Gallant had made his speech within his role as defense minister. 

“He has a responsibility to state security, and he exercised it in the only way possible,” Gantz said. 

Several anonymous sources reportedly told Hebrew news outlets that not every coalition member supported Netanyahu’s decision to fire Gallant. In particular, Kan news said that Shas party head Arye Deri was pushing Netanyahu to restore Gallant. 

Likud Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in which Gallant warned that the uproar surrounding the judicial reforms was harming Israel’s security, spoke out in support of Gallant on Monday. 

“In light of the information that came up in the discussion and in view of the security situation, it is clear that this is not the time to change the defense minister,” Edelstein wrote. 

Legally, Gallant remains in his position until the prime minister gives him a letter with a 48-hour warning of termination. Netanyahu has not done that yet. 

Some Hebrew media outlets reported on Monday that Netanyahu is considering appointing Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter to the role. Dichter is a former head of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, which is Israel's equivalent to the FBI. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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