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Tuesday May 28, 2024

Netanyahu announces ‘pause’ to judicial reforms after mass protests

By AFP
March 28, 2023

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced a pause to divisive judicial reforms moving through parliament, after months of street rallies that drew tens of thousands.

“Out of a sense of national responsibility, out of a will to prevent a rupture among our people, I have decided to pause the second and third readings of the bill,” he told the nation.He added he would delay consideration of the bill to the next session of parliament which begins in the second half of April.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog earlier on Monday had called for an immediate halt to the legislative process, a day after Netanyahu fired his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for making a similar demand.

That sparked a general strike call on Monday from Israel’s top trade union chief, Arnon Bar-David, but he called off the action after Netanyahu’s address.“Following the prime minister’s announcement I declare the end of the strike,” Bar-David, chairman of the Histadrut trade union confederation, said in a statement.

Flights were disrupted, hospitals stopped non-emergency service, and even diplomats had walked off the job on Monday.Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant appeared to signal that the prime minister and his allies would barrel ahead. Gallant was the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against the plan, saying the deep divisions threatened to weaken the military.

And Netanyahu’s government forged ahead with a centerpiece of the overhaul — a law that would give the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. A parliamentary committee approved the legislation on Monday for a final vote, which could come this week.

The government also seeks to pass laws that would grant the Knesset the authority to overturn Supreme Court decisions and limit judicial review of laws.A separate law that would circumvent a Supreme Court ruling to allow a key coalition ally to serve as minister was delayed following a request from that party’s leader.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has no fears that Israel will devolve into civil war after weeks of unrest over a controversial judicial overhaul, the White House said on Monday.“The president believes that one of the great things about Israel is its strong history of democracy,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“In many ways, you’re seeing the same traditions,” he said, referring to the massive protests over the moves by the hard-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.While the United States has “concerns” about the Netanyahu government’s plans for the judiciary, “the president is not concerned that Israel was going to devolve into any kind of civil war,” Kirby said.