Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night rescinded his decision to dismiss Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, after a week of rocket fire and terror attacks.
“In the last days, we worked together and stood together around the clock on all the fronts against the security challenges,” Netanyahu told reporters.
“There were disagreements between us, even difficult ones on certain topics, but I decided to leave them behind. Gallant will remain in his position and will continue to work tougher on behalf of the state of Israel,” he stated.
“There were disagreements between us, even difficult ones on certain topics, but I decided to leave them behind. Gallant will remain in his position and will continue to work tougher on behalf of the state of Israel.”Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu spoke at a press conference at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, but Gallant was not with him.
Gallant tweeted after Netanyahu’s speech, “We will continue together with full strength, for the sake of Israel’s security.”
ממשיכים יחד במלוא העוצמה, למען ביטחון ישראל@netanyahu pic.twitter.com/jNKyMApQm0— יואב גלנט - Yoav Gallant (@yoavgallant) April 10, 2023
Israel's defense minister crisis
Netanyahu had initially fired Gallant on March 26 for publicly warning that the political turmoil in Israel was harming Israel’s security. There was intense public disapproval of the move. Already last week, Netanyahu backed down slightly and said he would delay the firing.
Then on Monday, in an unusual move, he backed down altogether.
In the wide-ranging press conference that lasted for close to half an hour, Netanyahu defended his proposed judicial overhaul, which opponents have warned will turn Israel from a democracy into a dictatorship.
Netanyahu accused opposition politicians of harming Israel’s security by their warning that his plan was destroying the country.
“When you say that Israel is falling apart, how do you think that is heard by our enemies? Our enemies see this, and they believe that they can destroy us.” Statements by soldiers that they would refuse to serve in the army have been particularly damaging, he said.
Netanyahu also blamed the previous government for errors leading to the violence that Israel is now experiencing. These included, he said, the gas deal the past government made with Lebanon and the presence of the Israeli-Arab Ra’am Party in the former coalition.
In the past, Netanyahu said, he was able to preserve Israel’s security. So too now, he claimed, his government would restore calm and fix the weaknesses “we inherited” and end the violence.
If Israel’s enemies think that soldiers’ statements that they would refuse to follow orders symbolize internal weakness, “they are mistaken,” he said. “In the moment of fire, everyone serves.”
Netanyahu spoke specifically about the six rockets launched from Syria over the weekend, explaining that Israel’s counter-strike was just the start.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad “will pay a heavy price” if it continues to attack Israel, he said.
Netanyahu said Israel would not allow Hamas to build a terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon alongside the existing Hezbollah infrastructure.
The press conference came just one day after a Channel 13 poll showed that if elections were held now, Netanyahu would get only 20 seats, compared to the 32 his Likud Party received in the November 2022 election.
Former defense minister and National Unity Party head MK Benny Gantz tweeted in response to Netanyahu’s comments, “Whining does not build leadership.
בבכיינות לא בונים מנהיגות— בני גנץ - Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) April 10, 2023
Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) wrote in response to the prime minister’s statements, “While our enemies continue to claim precious human lives... the prime minister has lost control in front of the nation’s eyes.
“Instead of holding press conferences and blaming others for the troubles caused by the most extremist and failed government in the nation’s history, the time has come for him and his ministers to stop whining and to finally take responsibility,” he added.