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Pressure Builds Against Judicial Overhaul as Israel's Netanyahu Dismisses Defense Minister

Picture: Press Pool

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to suppress opposition to a plan for judicial reform, prompting tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other cities throughout the country.

Gallant's termination followed his call for a delay in the implementation of the judicial overhaul proposal, citing the danger that military protests against it posed to national security. Despite growing opposition within his own party, Netanyahu remains committed to the controversial plan, and delaying the vote could lead to the collapse of his coalition.

The move to silence dissent indicates that Netanyahu is determined to push forward with the overhaul, despite warnings from analysts of a potential constitutional crisis. According to Nimrod Novik, a fellow at the Israel Policy Forum think tank in New York, Israel is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the judicial overhaul legislation. Novik believes that Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to fire Gallant will further fuel the protest movement, and a constitutional crisis may be inevitable.

The proposed reforms have sparked nearly half a million Israelis to protest for 12 consecutive weeks, and late on Sunday, thousands gathered in front of Netanyahu's home in Jerusalem and shut down a major highway in Tel Aviv in response to Gallant's dismissal. Despite police attempts to disperse the demonstrators, they remained resolute, with one protester stating that they will not give up until they win. The Knesset is expected to vote on the legislation this week, which would grant the government an automatic majority on the panel that selects judges, although some appointments would still require compromise.

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