Israel Defence Minister fired, White House concerned
Washington, US: The White House in a statement released on Monday expressed concern over the firing of Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and has said that there is an "urgent need for compromise".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday fired his defence minister Yoav Gallant, who had called for a halt to plans to overhaul the country's court system, CNN reported.
Reacting to this, the White House released a statement saying, "We are deeply concerned by the developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise. As the President (Joe Biden) recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship."
"Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support. We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible. We believe that is the best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens. US support for Israel's security and democracy remains ironclad," the statement read further.
Netanyahu's office announced Gallant's removal in a statement after he became the first member of the cabinet to break ranks over the proposals, which have sparked weeks of protests.
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to remove Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from his post," CNN cited the statement.
Yoav Gallant called for a halt to the judicial reforms in a speech on Saturday, when Netanyahu was out of the country on an official visit to the United Kingdom. Some military reservists have committed to pulling out of their service in opposition to the plans, which critics have said would undermine the independence of the judiciary, according to CNN report.
Yoav Gallant said going ahead with the proposals could pose a threat to Israel's security. The statement by Gallant, who is a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, upset Israel's coalition government. An official in Netanyahu's office said the Israel PM had lost confidence in Gallant, adding that he had not cleared the statement in advance and had "thus sabotaged efforts to reach a solution.
"Meanwhile, Israel's Consulate General in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned after Netanyahu's decision to fire Gallant. In his resignation letter posted on Twitter, Zamir termed Netanyahu's decision a "dangerous decision.
"Thousands of people flooded onto the streets in protest on Sunday night in the wake of Gallant's firing, as per the CNN report. Yoav Gallant in his remarks on Saturday said the halt was required "for the security of Israel," citing the refusal of some Israel Defense Forces reservists to train in protest at the government plans.
After his dismissal, Gallant reiterated his statement in a tweet on Sunday. He tweeted, "The security of the State of Israel has always been and will always remain the mission of my life.
"Israel's former Prime Minister Yair Lapid has termed Gallant's removal from the government a "new low," as per the news report. In a tweet, he wrote that Netanyahu might be able to remove the minister but "cannot fire the people of Israel who are standing up to the insanity of the coalition." He added, "The Prime Minister of Israel is a danger to the security of the State of Israel.
"Under the proposals, the Israeli government will have control over the appointment of judges, and parliament would have the power to override Supreme Court decisions, according to a CNN report. The government has said that changes are needed to rein in the Supreme Court, which they consider insular, elitist, and no longer representative of the Israeli people.
Universities in Israel have announced that they will go on strike starting Monday. Meanwhile, Israel's largest labour union and business leaders said they would hold a press conference on Monday morning.