Meanwhile in Israel, PM Benjamin Netanyahu is not only back in power, but taking all the power for himself, in a breathtaking display of authoritarian rule. His plan to neuter the country's judicial branch so that they can never threaten him again with the bribery scandal that ousted him in the first place has now led to the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, nationwide protests, and the country on the brink of losing democracy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on Sunday barely a day after Mr. Gallant became the first member of his cabinet to call for a halt to the government’s contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary.
Announced in a one-line statement by the prime minister’s office, the move intensified an already dramatic domestic crisis — one of the gravest in Israeli history — that was set off by the government’s proposal to give itself greater control over the selection of Supreme Court justices and to limit the court’s authority over Parliament.
The crisis has spurred mass protests, unrest in the military and now, after Mr. Gallant’s criticism and subsequent expulsion from government, rifts in the governing coalition.
Mr. Gallant was fired after urging that the legislation be postponed, warning that it had caused turmoil in the military and was therefore a threat to Israel’s security.
“The rift within our society is widening and penetrating the Israel Defense Forces,” Mr. Gallant said in a televised speech. The schisms, he said, have caused “a clear and immediate and tangible danger to the security of the state — I shall not be a party to this.”
Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to fire Mr. Gallant appeared an unmistakable signal that the government intends to proceed with a final vote in Parliament early this week on the first part of its proposed overhaul: a law that would give the government greater control over who sits on the Supreme Court.
Mr. Gallant, 64, was appointed less than three months ago, fending off competition from a more extreme member of the coalition with far less military experience. His appointment had eased fears in Washington that Mr. Netanyahu might appoint a far-right lawmaker to oversee Israel’s powerful military, which receives considerable U.S. aid and technical assistance.
A former naval commando, Mr. Gallant had faced calls from former military colleagues to speak out against the judicial overhaul. In recent days, other former naval commandos held protests outside his home to persuade him to break ranks. And reserve pilots sent him text messages every time one of them decided to suspend their service in protest of the plan for the court.
In a chaotic Parliament on Sunday, lawmakers raced to finalize the text of the proposed law, while government leaders behind the scenes were scrambling to ensure they had enough votes to pass it.
Two moderate allies of Mr. Netanyahu announced their support on Sunday for the legislation, squashing rumors that they were about to break ranks. But two other coalition members have backed the call by Mr. Gallant to halt the process. If a third follows suit, the government could lose its majority.
If enacted, the law would complete the first step of a plan to limit judicial influence that has provoked unease among investors, the Jewish diaspora and the Biden administration, as well as in the military.
So many reservists have threatened to stand down from duty if the law goes ahead that the leaders of the Israel Defense Forces have warned of a threat to operational capacity, prompting Mr. Gallant’s intervention on Saturday.
Israel's Supreme Court is giving Netanyahu a week to respond to its petition on the judicial overhaul, meanwhile at least one member of Netanyahu's cabinet, Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, is threatening to resign if Netanyahu doesn't overhaul the judiciary.
The situation in Israel is rapidly getting out of control as a general strike by thousands continues today, but far-right hardliner groups are threatening violence if Netanyahu steps back, or steps down.
Oh, and the irony of Netanyahu treating ordinary Israelis like, well, Palestinians isn't lost on anyone right now.
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