Israeli PM reverses course on firing defence minister amid security tensions | CBC News

Israeli PM reverses course on firing defence minister amid security tensions | CBC News


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he would leave Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in place given an escalating security crisis, reversing a decision to fire the minister that triggered protests and raised alarm abroad.

He said the two had resolved their disagreement over Gallant’s public call last month for a halt to the government’s bitterly divisive judicial overhaul plan, which Gallant said had become a threat to Israel’s security.

Last week, Netanyahu announced he would delay the dismissal.

“I’ve decided to put our differences behind us,” Netanyahu said at a Monday news conference. He said the two had worked closely together during the last two weeks.

Netanyahu announced late last month that Gallant was fired. The decision set off a wave of spontaneous mass protests and a general strike that threatened to paralyze the country, forcing the Israeli leader to suspend his divisive plan to overhaul the judicial system.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is shown on March 9 as he delivers a statement to the media in Tel Aviv. The announcement late last month that he would be fired as defence minister set off a wave of spontaneous mass protests in Israel. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images)

In a more recent development that raised new concerns over security, an Italian tourist was killed and five people were wounded in a car ramming in Tel Aviv last Friday, hours after two Israeli sisters and their mother were killed in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.

The attacks, after a night of cross-border strikes in Gaza and Lebanon, added to heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions following Israeli police raids in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque this week. The tensions threatened to widen when Israel responded to a barrage of rockets by hitting targets linked to the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon, but the fighting entered a lull on Friday.

WATCH | Calls for peace after clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque:

Calls for peace after clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem — one of the holiest sites in both Islam and Judaism — sparked renewed clashes and calls for peace as Passover and Ramadan coincide.

Israelis push for outpost recognition

On Monday in the northern West Bank, thousands of Israelis, including a number of cabinet ministers, marched to an evacuated Jewish outpost to show support for settlements viewed as illegal under international law.

People from across the country travelled to the outpost of Eviatar while waving Israeli flags and chanting religious songs and slogans during the holiday week of Passover.

Visits to Eviatar have been officially banned by the military since its evacuation in 2021, but that prohibition has been loosely enforced in recent months. Israeli army spokesperson Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht said the military approved Monday’s march, saying it would be “highly monitored and highly protected.”

Demonstrators gather outside.
Israeli settlers gather after holding a march to the unauthorized outpost of Eviatar, in the occupied West Bank, on Monday. (Ariel Schalit/The Associated Press)

Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in the nearby village of Beita, injuring 17 people with rubber bullets and two with gas canisters to the head, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

On Sunday, an opinion poll from Israel’s Channel 13 News showed Netanyahu’s Likud party would lose more than a third of its seats if an election were held now, and he would fail to gain a majority with his hard-right coalition partners.

“I’m not disturbed by the poll,” Netanyahu told reporters.

The prime minister said relations with the United States, which appeared strained over the government’s planned judicial overhaul, remained “tight” and the two countries enjoyed security and intelligence co-operation.

Netanyahu’s government paused legislation on the overhaul to allow for discussions and a compromise with opposition parties following weeks of nationwide protests.



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