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Gallant could issue apology for timing of his statement, remain in defense minister post

Mediation efforts by Arye Deri reportedly affected the possible compromise

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant visits Israelis injured in last night's terror attack, at Beilinson Hospital, on March 26, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant may keep his ministry position by issuing an apology for the timing of a televised speech he made on Saturday night, when he called for Israel’s judicial reforms to be halted. Netanyahu announced his decision to dismiss Gallant after the speech, saying that he “lost faith” in the defense minister, but did not follow up with a formal letter to terminate Gallant from his position.

Netanyahu’s announcement to fire Gallant led to renewed protests overnight.

Israeli media outlets said that Israel’s former Health Minister and Minister of Interior Arye Deri has been involved in mediations between Netanyahu and Gallant. Deri reportedly proposed that the prime minister allow Gallant to write an apology for the timing of his statement, without retracting the content.

In his speech, Gallant said the rift between supporters and opponents of the judicial reforms was a threat to Israel’s security and called for a pause in the reforms to engage in negotiations. 

“The breach within the nation has penetrated deep into the IDF and defense establishment – a clear and major threat to the security of Israel,” Gallant said, adding that he would not allow that to happen. 

Netanyahu’s firing of Gallant provoked responses from both coalition and opposition politicians, in addition to the protests that erupted on the streets and a general strike on Monday by Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor.

The protests and strike preceded Netanyahu announcing a pause to the judicial reform legislation in order to engage in “genuine dialogue to reach a wide agreement.” 

Netanyahu was reportedly upset that Gallant decided to issue his statement, despite an agreement to wait a few days. Gallant said he would release a statement the previous day, just before Netanyahu’s trip to England, where he met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over mutual concerns about Iran's nuclear developments.

Netanyahu also announced that he would make a statement before his trip, with some political analysts speculating that Netanyahu would announce a pause in legislation at that time. 

After Netanyahu summoned Gallant to Jerusalem, the defense minister canceled his own speech. Netanyahu allegedly expressed to Gallant that he understood his concerns and asked for a few days to handle the situation. 

In his own statement on Sunday, Netanyahu confirmed that he was actively involving himself in the matter of the judicial reforms. He had not been involved for some time, after Israel’s attorney general ruled that a “conflict of interest” arrangement should prevent him from doing so.  

Netanyahu reportedly believed that, having temporarily calmed the situation, he could depart for England to meet with Sunak without any further issues.

Several coalition lawmakers, including Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein, chairperson of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, have said Netanyahu decision to dismiss Gallant was a mistake.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, who is rumored to be under consideration as a replacement for Gallant, is also allegedly pressing Netanyahu to keep Gallant in his position.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu is considering Deri’s proposal and demanding that Gallant resign from the Knesset as part of an agreement. This would prevent Gallant from being able to vote against the reform legislation when it is brought to a vote. There is no law requiring Cabinet members to be Knesset members, so Gallant could continue in a Cabinet post without being a Knesset member.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz has publicly called on Netanyahu to reverse his decision to fire Gallant.

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

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