Netanyahu delays judicial reform for a month to reach a broad consensus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday night that he would postpone his key judicial reform until the next parliamentary session, Reuters reported.

“Driven by a desire to prevent division of the nation, I have decided to postpone the second and third readings (of the bill) so that a broad consensus can be reached,” the prime minister said in a televised address.

Netanyahu’s address was preceded by one of the largest street protests in the history of the Jewish state, notes Reuters.

The reform will be discussed in April, at the next session of the parliament. Netanyahu emphasized that he wants it to be adopted by consensus by his cabinet partners.

The address to the nation comes a day after Netanyahu fired his defense minister, who differed from him on the issue, and after President Isaac Herzog called for an immediate end to the reform.

There were earlier reports in the Israeli press that Netanyahu might announce a halt to judicial reform, but other reports said members of his coalition have threatened to resign if the reforms are halted or watered down.

The leader of Israel’s largest trade union organization – the General Labor Federation (“Histadrut”) – has announced that it is starting a general strike in protest against the prime minister’s plans to reform the judicial system, the Associated Press reported.

The decision by the union, which represents more than 700,000 workers in multiple sectors, from bank employees to transport and health workers, could paralyze much of the Israeli economy.

Union president Arnon Bar-David said the aim of the strike was to push Israel “away from the precipice”.

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested last night after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Galant yesterday over his disagreement with the controversial judicial reform. Demonstrators blocked Tel Aviv’s main highway and police used water cannons to disperse them. Similarly, security forces pushed back protesters who broke through barricades near the prime minister’s home in Jerusalem.

Israel has seen mass protests over the past 12 weeks against the government’s plans for judicial reform, which the opposition sees as an attempt to reduce the powers of the judiciary in favor of the executive. But Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, insists his judiciary plan will strengthen democracy and restore balance between the legislature, executive and judiciary.

The leader of the opposition party “Israel Beitenu” (“Our Home Israel”) Avigdor Lieberman described Netanyahu’s rule as “the highest form of dictatorship”, notes the Israeli TPS agency.

As part of the national protests against the judicial reform today were flights suspended from Israel’s largest airport, Ben Gurionan airport spokesman said.

The mayors of three Israeli municipalities have announced that they are going on hunger strike in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. The mayors of the cities of Kfar Sava and Herzliya, as well as of the Tsichron Yakov region, called on the government to stop the actions to implement the controversial judicial reform and to start negotiations with the opposition. They also demanded that the unity, safety and security of the Israeli people be protected.

The President of Israel Yitzhak Herzog also appealed to the government to stop the controversial judicial reform plan, Reuters reported.

“Last night we witnessed very difficult scenes,” Herzog said in a statement released by the president’s office. “The whole nation is gripped by deep anxiety. Our security, our economy and our society are under threat,” he stressed, addressing “the prime minister, the members of the government and those of the majority.”

“The whole people of Israel are looking at you. All the Jews are looking at you. The whole world is looking at you,” added Herzog, whose repeated calls for a compromise solution to the reforms have so far failed to prevent the country’s gradual slide into crisis, according to AFP .

“In the name of the unity of the Israeli people, in the name of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” said the head of state.

Consul of Israel in New York announced that he was resigning in protest against the dismissal of the minister.

Netanyahu’s government is pushing for a parliamentary vote this week on the centerpiece of judicial reform, a law that would give the ruling coalition the final say on all judicial appointments.

Netanyahu is also seeking to push through laws that would give parliament the power to overturn Supreme Court rulings and limit the court’s review of laws.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.