Israel defence minister fired in legal reform row

Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv, 25 March 2023Getty Images

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has been sacked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after calling for the scrapping of controversial plans to overhaul the justice system.

Mr Netanyahu summoned Mr Gallant to a meeting and told him he no longer had faith in him as defence minister.

The plan to limit the powers of the judiciary has led to months of public protests.

Mr Gallant had called it an "immediate and tangible danger" to state security.

In a brief televised statement on Saturday night, Mr Gallant said members of the Israeli Defence Forces were angry and disappointed, with an intensity he had never encountered before.

The defence minister had won the backing of some fellow members of Mr Netanyahu's Likud party, but others on the far right had called for him to go.

Protests against the changes to the legal system continued on Sunday night, with protesters blocking a major road in Tel Aviv.

The law is part of the right-wing coalition government's contentious plan to limit the powers of the judiciary.

It includes enabling parliament to overrule decisions made by the Supreme Court - a move that critics say will undermine the independence of the judiciary and could be used for political ends.

But Mr Netanyahu says the reforms are designed to stop the courts overreaching their powers and that they were voted for by the public at the last election.

Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid described Mr Gallant's sacking as "a new low" for the government.

"Netanyahu can fire Gallant, but he can't fire reality or fire the people of Israel who are fronting up to resist the coalition's madness," Mr Lapid added.