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Netanyahu announces Gallant will stay defense minister, vows to tackle terror

The Israeli prime minister pledged to bring justice to those who have attacked Israelis in recent days and to reach a broad consensus on judicial reform, which has caused so much domestic upheaval.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, April 10, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, April 10, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

In a Hebrew press conference that began shortly after 8:25 p.m. local time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, whom Netanyahu previously fired in a dispute over judicial reforms, would remain in office.

The Israeli prime minister further pledged to bring justice to those who have attacked Israelis in recent days and to reach a broad consensus on judicial reform, which has caused much domestic upheaval in the past few months.

Netanyahu began his remarks with condolences for the British Israeli Dee family. Earlier in the day, Lucy Dee, 48, died from wounds sustained during a terrorist attack that killed her daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15.

“May God avenge their blood,” he said.

On the security front, Netanyahu criticized the previous government, saying terrorist attacks doubled under its tenure. He also blamed the Israel-Lebanon gas deal and threats from Israeli soldiers not to serve for the recent wave of terror attacks.

“Our enemies saw the calls for refusal as weakness,” he said of the latter. However, he continued, “this is my responsibility” and “I act with responsibility.”

The prime minister added that his government brought about the decade with the least number of terror attacks in Israeli history and pledged to restore peace and quiet.

“I can’t tell you all that we are doing, but we are doing a lot,” he said.

If there are further attacks from Syria, it and its President Bashar Assad will pay “a very heavy price,” said Netanyahu. He added that Israel will not allow Hamas to entrench itself in Lebanon.

Hamas received the message from Israel in Gaza, according to Netanyahu, who promised that, if they wish it, Israel’s enemies will meet the “full power” of the Israel Defense Forces.

Netanyahu said he stands with Gallant, despite their past differences, which he admitted have been significant. “I decided to put differences aside,” he said. Of the entire dispute, Netanyahu added, “I put it behind us.”

Collaboration on security issues

In response to questions from reporters, Netanyahu said Israel must reach “a wide agreement” on judicial reforms.

“There will not be a halachic state,” he promised. He also pledged to protect minorities, including haredim, and said that a new National Guard “will not be the militia of anyone,” a reference to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Netanyahu added that, despite polls suggesting a major drop in support for him and his party, the government will remain in power for four years. He also slammed the former government for forming a coalition with “the Muslim Brotherhood”—a reference to the Arab Ra’am Party—which the prime minister said had made it unable to fight terror.

Despite recent criticism from U.S. President Joe Biden, Netanyahu said relations with Washington are good, and there is collaboration “at this time” on security issues. He added that what world leaders have said to him behind the scenes is “completely different” from their public criticism of Israel.

In response to an English-language question about signs at protests that directed obscenities at Biden, Netanyahu said he condemned such slogans. “You don’t curse the American president,” he said.

He added that Israel can say “no” to Washington when necessary, though the United States is an “indispensable ally.”

In response to a question referring to recently revealed U.S. intelligence documents, Netanyahu said that Israel is not sending offensive weapons to Ukraine. He added of Israel playing a possible role in ending the Russia-Ukraine war, and “if I can contribute to that, I will.”

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