Netanyahu dismisses Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over judicial overhaul remarks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant following his public criticism of the government's plans to overhaul the country's judiciary.

Gallant had expressed concerns about the proposed changes, calling them a threat to Israel's security during a speech on Saturday night. The defense minister argued that any attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary could undermine trust in Israel's legal system and harm national security.

Netanyahu issued a statement on Sunday announcing Gallant's dismissal, saying he could not tolerate dissent within his coalition government. "The defense minister must support government policy rather than undermine it," he said.

The prime minister did not comment further on the specifics of Gallant's remarks, but his decision comes amid growing controversy over proposed reforms aimed at curtailing what some see as excessive judicial activism by Israeli courts.

Critics argue that these measures would give politicians greater control over appointments and decisions made by judges, while proponents say they are necessary to combat what they see as unchecked power wielded by an unelected elite.

In recent weeks, there have been protests across Israel against the proposals, which opponents say would be a major blow to democracy in the country. Some critics have also accused Netanyahu of using these reforms as part of an effort to shield himself from corruption charges.

Gallant was appointed as defense minister earlier this year after serving for many years in senior positions within Israel's military establishment. He is widely seen as a potential successor to Netanyahu if and when he steps down from office.

His dismissal is likely to stir up further tensions within Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party and could put pressure on him ahead of upcoming elections scheduled for 2021.