Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired a key cabinet ally on Sunday. A Supreme Court ruling ordered him to do so and deepening a rift over the court’s powers.
Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting.
That he was firing Aryeh Deri, who served as interior and health minister. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled last week that Deri cannot serve. As a cabinet minister because of his conviction last year for tax crimes.
The court’s ruling comes as Israel is embroiled in a debate over the powers of the judiciary. Netanyahu’s far-right government wants to weaken the Supreme Court. Limit judicial oversight and give more power to politicians. Critics say the move upends the country’s system of checks and balances. And undermines Israel’s democratic fundamentals.
The plan has drawn sharp criticism from top legal officials. The Supreme Court chief justice, former lawmakers and tens of thousands of Israelis. Who have come out to protest the revisions.
According to his office, Netanyahu told Deri that he was removing. Him from his post “with a heavy heart and great sadness.”
“This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people,” Netanyahu told Deri. “I want to find a legal way for you to continue contributing to the State of Israel.”
Derry said he would continue to lead his party. And help the government advance its agenda, including legislative reforms.
About 100,000 people turned out in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest.
Netanyahu’s plans for judicial reform, Israeli media reported, citing police.
Protesters filled the central streets of the coastal metropolis, carrying Israeli flags. And banners reading “Our children will not live under a dictatorship” and “Israel, we have a problem.”
“This is a protest to protect the country,” said opposition leader. And former prime minister Yair Lapid, who joined the protest. “People are here today to defend their democracy.”
“All generations are concerned. This is not a joke,” said Leo’s student protesting. “It’s a whole new definition of democracy.”
Other protests took place in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.
Last week, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption.
Vowed to press ahead with judicial reform plans despite protests. Opponents say the changes could help Netanyahu win a conviction in his corruption. Trial or make the court case disappear altogether.
On Friday, Netanyahu’s coalition was put to a fresh test. After cabinet members clashed over the demolition. An unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank.
Defense Minister Yoav Galant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party. Ordered the removal of the outpost, upsetting a supportive cabinet member. Who issued an order suspending the eviction pending further negotiations.
The shooting in Derri is also expected to shake Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. A union fueled by ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties. Including Derri’s Shas, the government’s third-largest party. Although some Shas lawmakers threatened to block the new coalition. And craft legislation that paves the way for his swift return.