Israel’s Netanyahu delays judicial reform after mass protests – POLITICO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he would postpone a controversial reform that would give parliament more control over the country’s judicial system, after weeks of mass protests against the legislation.

“When there is an option to avoid civil war through dialogue, I take time for dialogue,” he said in a press release issued shortly after 8 p.m. local time amid protests in course involving supporters from both sides. He added that “out of national responsibility” he is postponing the final readings of the controversial judicial appointments bill until the next session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, which begins in early May.

Netanyahu has sparked weeks of chaos with proposals to rein in Israel’s top court, as he himself is on trial for corruption and could benefit from the overhaul.

The proposed reform consists of a series of bills that would give the Knesset more control over the country’s judicial system — including how judges are selected, which laws the Supreme Court can rule on, as well as the reversal of Supreme Court decisions.

Monday’s announcement follows calls for action from President Isaac Herzog, who earlier in the day demanded that the government “immediately halt the legislative process” in a statement on Monday. Twitter.

Legal overhaul was a major part of Netanyahu’s program when he returned to power last December to lead a coalition government that has been described as the most right-wing in Israel’s history.

Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has said Netanyahu, who is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, should not be involved in a judicial overhaul until his court cases are over, in the event of a potential conflict of interest.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, calling the corruption charges a “witch hunt.”

Judicial reform has sparked huge protests across the country over the past three months. On Sunday evening, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in cities across the country to oppose Netanyahu’s firing of his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, for challenging the reform, announced by the Prime Minister’s Office in a brief statement.

In reaction, Gallant wrote on Twitter“The security of the State of Israel has always been and always will be my life mission.”

Growing popular dissent against the judicial overhaul intensified on Monday as the head of Israel’s main labor union called for a general strike, according to French newswire AFP. According to The Times of Israel, all flights were grounded at the country’s main international airport, while public hospitals only provided emergency care.

Thousands of demonstrators again gathered outside parliament on Monday to protest the reforms, while far-right leaders such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had called their supporters to a pro-reform counter-rally, reportedly also attended by several thousand government supporters later that day.


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