Prime Minister Netanyahu delays legal reforms after day of strikes
Date Added: 28 March 2023

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has decided to temporarily halt his government’s controversial judicial reform bill, after weeks of protests and amid fears of civil war in the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced a delay in controversial plans for judicial reform that sparked mass protests nationwide.

“I have decided to suspend the second and third readings in this session,” Netanyahu said in Jerusalem on Monday.

This means that the bill will not be put to a vote in parliament until the end of April at the earliest.

His comments came a day after he sacked his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, who had called for a halt to the legislative process, citing national security concerns.

Earlier Monday, President Isaac Herzog, who holds a largely ceremonial role, made a similar demand, and tens of thousands of protesters had rallied near parliament in Jerusalem after the strike declaration.

Flights had been disrupted, hospitals stopped non-emergency services, and even diplomats walked off the job.

But immediately after Netanyahu announced the pause, Arnon Bar-David, chairman of the Histadrut trade union confederation, called off the strike.

About 80,000 demonstrators joined the Jerusalem rally against the reform package, the latest such protest to draw tens of thousands, Israeli media estimated.

A nearby counter-demonstration attracted thousands of right-wing backers of the overhaul, an AFP journalist said, after Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir urged their attendance.

Demonstrators have for months decried the reform plans as a threat to Israel’s democracy.

The Israel Medical Association had joined the strike call, which affected public hospitals, though it said life-saving treatments continued.

The strike also affected flights at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, where an AFP journalist saw multiple delayed departures.