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crisis in israel

Mass protests in Israel after Netanyahu ousts defense minister opposed to judicial overhaul

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on Sunday, after Gallant called on him to drop a proposed overhaul of the country's judicial system.

Israel's right-wing government is proposing changing the way the country's Supreme Court judges are picked, giving appointees and representatives of the government an automatic majority on the committee. This would "effectively [allow] the government to choose the judges," The New York Times writes. Additionally, the parliament would be able to override the Supreme Court's ability to strike down laws it deems unconstitutional.

During a speech on Saturday, Gallant said the overhaul needed to be halted "for the security of Israel," citing several Israel Defense Force reservists saying they would stop training in protest. There have been protests in Israel ever since the controversial plan was first announced, and Netanyahu's dismissal of Gallant — the first member of the ruling Likud party to publicly oppose it — sparked demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other parts of Israel on Sunday night, with tens of thousands of protesters hitting the streets and blocking roadways. Several universities also announced a strike starting Monday.

Since Gallant's removal, three government ministers from Likud have said they would support Netanyahu pausing the overhaul. "When the house is on fire, you don't ask who is right, but pour water and save its occupants," Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar tweeted. "If the prime minister decides to stop the legislation in order to prevent the rift created in the nation, we must support his position." Israel's Consul General in New York, Asaf Zamir, submitted his resignation, calling Gallant's firing "a dangerous decision" and admitting he has "become increasingly concerned with the policies of the new government, and in particular, the judicial reform it is leading."