Israel in Chaos After Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister

Thousands of Israelis take to the streets, blocking Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on March 27, in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahua’s surprise sacking of his defense minister, Yoav Gallant.
Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Israel in Chaos After Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on Sunday after Gallant refused to back Netanyahu’s judicial reform program. Protesters have been rallying against Netanyahu and his program since January. But Gallant’s firing has brought renewed energy to the protests in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s estimated about 600,000 people are protesting. Many essential workers, like airport staff and longshoremen, have also gone on strike. Gallant will remain a member of the Knesset.

Why now? Angry citizens blocking roads in Tel Aviv are not the only ones demonstrating against the government. So are Israeli military reservists. The Israel Defense Forces usually rises above politics—but in this case, more and more reservists are resorting to civil disobedience. Some are refusing call-ups to duty. Others say they would do so if the judicial reform takes place. Several hundred have already signed their name in a public letter. The day before he was fired, Gallant said the reform program should be put on hold because of the idf revolts.

[N]ow, I declare loudly and publicly, for the sake of Israel’s security, for the sake of our sons and daughters, the legislative process should be stopped in order to enable the nation of Israel to celebrate Passover and Independence Day together, and to mourn together on Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day.
—Yoav Gallant, March 25

The Knesset is expected to vote on part of the program as early as this week. How Israeli society—including the idf—will respond if it passes is unknown. But pressure is mounting on Netanyahu.

Just this morning, he survived two separate votes of no confidence, which could have ended his government. One vote failed by a margin of 59-53. The government currently has 64 seats in the Knesset. This means several members of Netanyahu’s own coalition voted against him.

Why the Supreme Court? The Israeli Supreme Court is an extremely controversial institution. Through subjective interpretation of the law and a creeping push of their jurisdiction boundaries, the Supreme Court has, since the early 1990s, become an oligarchic body with veto power over almost any government decision. Israeli conservatives have wanted some sort of judicial reform for years. Some of the particular reforms Netanyahu is sponsoring—like Knesset oversight on Supreme Court decisions—may be a bit unorthodox. But much of the anti-Netanyahu hysteria is centered on how the court checks Netanyahu’s power. A neutering of the Supreme Court’s disproportionate power could bring stability to Israeli politics. Netanyahu’s squabble with Gallant, however, shows this won’t come easily.

What the Trumpet wrote:

Netanyahu has been in politics for a long time. He has made many enemies along the way. The Supreme Court may not be the biggest among them, but it has had its fair share of headbutting with Netanyahu. If the court’s power is curtailed, this could give the prime minister much more leeway in implementing his program. …

The Trumpet relies on several biblical prophecies to analyze current events in the State of Israel. Various prophecies describe Israel’s troubles as “rottenness” (Hosea 5:12) and a “wound” (verse 13). And when Israel falls, it will fall hard (verse 5). However, the Bible also prophesies that the State of Israel will experience temporary respite from its troubles—and even have a resurgence. Netanyahu hasn’t held the premiership for long, but signs of such a resurgence are already apparent.

To learn more, read “Benjamin Netanyahu vs. Israel’s Supreme Court.”