Netanyahu postpones judicial reform

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Staff via Getty Images)

OAN Brooke Mallory
Updated 4:04 PM – Monday, March 27, 2023

Israel’s largest trade union announced a major strike on Monday against judicial reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sending the country’s political turmoil into uncharted territory.

Many government ministries, the country’s three largest cities, banks, ports and numerous other businesses and organizations will go on strike on Monday, while critical services such as hospitals and firefighters will go on Saturday, according to Israel’s Histadrut trade union. Announced. schedule.

The strike disrupted all takeoffs from Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion Tel Aviv, for several hours.

Some universities have closed, while Haifa, the country’s largest port, and some of the country’s most prominent retailers, including McDonald’s and mall chain Azrieli Group, have also announced closures.

Many Israeli embassies, including those in Washington, D.C., London and Paris, have been closed after employees and some diplomats went on strike on Monday.

The strike was officially announced on Sunday following the dismissal of Netanyahu Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who became the first minister to call for a halt to reforms.

A protester uses a megaphone during a rally in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2023. He is calling for ongoing demonstrations and a general strike in response to the far-right government’s controversial push to overhaul its justice system. (Photo by AFP via GIL COHEN-MAGEN/Getty Images)

A large, unplanned demonstration of citizens waving Israeli flags and shouting “democracy” broke out in Tel Aviv, Israel, late Sunday night in response to the news about Gallant.

On the city’s main thoroughfare, protesters set fire to large numbers and blocked many streets and bridges, including the Ayalon Highway.

Netanyahu has not spoken publicly since sacking Gallant, but Israeli media expect him to do so on Monday. Instead, he posted a short tweet urging demonstrators to act responsibly.

“I call on all demonstrators in Jerusalem, right and left, to act responsibly and not to use violence. We are like brothers.”

For months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested against judicial reform bills that would strengthen the ruling party’s powers over the country’s judiciary.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the decision to sack Galant a new low and urged Netanyahu to change his mind.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Twitter that he could fire a minister but “cannot fire the Israeli people who are standing up to the madness of the coalition government.”

“We have never come close to collapsing. Our national security is at stake, our economy is collapsing, our diplomatic relations are at their worst… about the future of our children in this country.” We don’t know what to say to our children.

In a speech Saturday night when Netanyahu was out of the country on an official visit to Britain, Gallant called for a halt to judicial reform. Several military reservists have vowed to resign from their positions in opposition to a proposal that detractors claim would erode the independence of the judiciary.

According to Gallant, pursuing this idea could put Israel’s security in a dangerous predicament.

Many prominent authorities called for a suspension of the judicial reform process in the wake of his dismissal and widespread demonstrations that followed.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog urged Netanyahu and his administration to immediately halt the plan in a Facebook post on Monday.

“There is a deep concern across the nation. Security, economy, society – everyone is at risk,” Herzog said in a statement.

“The eyes of all Israel are on you. The eyes of all Jews are on you. The eyes of the whole world are on you. To meet our responsibilities, we urge the legislative process to be halted immediately.”

On Monday, more than 20 Israeli mayors declared a hunger strike over judicial reform.

“From tomorrow morning, [we] Launch a hunger strike in Jerusalem opposite the Prime Minister’s Office to demand an end to the enormous crisis and disaster facing Israel, to prevent national security from being affected, and for national solidarity and unity. ,” declared Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadron.

Twenty-seven representatives representing various local governments across the country signed the statement.

Netanyahu has come under increasing criticism from his own party in the midst of the protests.

Three ministers from Netanyahu’s Likud party, Economy Minister Neil Barkat, Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar, and Diaspora Relations and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikri, recommended the prime minister on Monday to suspend legislation.

Former Jerusalem mayor Barkat has advised Prime Minister Netanyahu to pause and reassess his reform agenda for bringing the country dangerously close to civil war.

“Reforms are necessary and we will implement them, but not at the expense of civil war,” said Burcutt.

Some of the reform’s most ardent supporters even seemed to change their minds.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who was campaigning for the change to be passed on Monday, left open the possibility of a postponement.

“I respect the decisions that Prime Minister Netanyahu will make regarding the legislative process to revise the law … This is because a situation where everyone does as they please could quickly lead to the collapse of the government and the collapse of Likud. We are aware of something, said Levin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

In a statement on Saturday, Gallant cited the unwillingness of certain Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists to train as evidence that the suspension was necessary “for the sake of Israel’s security.”

Gallant reaffirmed that view in a tweet on Sunday after his dismissal, stating that “National Security of Israel has been and will continue to be my life’s mission.”

According to the proposal, Supreme Court rulings would no longer be binding on Congress and the government would be responsible for selecting judges.

The administration said the move was necessary to gain control of the Supreme Court, which they view as exclusive, elitist, and no longer representing the majority of Israelis.

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