Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial plans to weaken Israel’s judiciary will be put on hold after widespread strikes and protests drove the country to a standstill, the party of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir announced Monday.
The legislation will be paused until the next legislative term, after the Passover recess in April, Gvir’s Jewish Power party said in a statement.
Netanyahu himself has not commented on a delay. A nationwide strike Monday saw workers in virtually every major sector walk out, and protests clogged streets and rammed city centers across Israel demanding an end to the bill.
Gvir insisted Monday that the judicial overhaul legislation would still come to a vote in parliament’s summer term.
He added that he had “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment that the legislation will be brought to the Knesset for approval in the next session if no agreements are reached during the recess.”
The Knesset’s summer sitting runs April 30 to July 30.
Israel At Standstill
Israel has been brought to a standstill by a “historic” general strike, as anger and unrest at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to weaken the judiciary peaked.
Nurses, airport workers and many more have reduced their hours or walked out.
The initial strike action was called by Histadrut, Israel’s largest trade union federation, and has been joined or supported by workers in multiple sectors.
The federation said critical services such as hospitals, firefighters and the electric company would operate on a Saturday schedule. Food establishments and day care centers will operate as usual and public transportation will continue to run.
“Actions that could endanger human life and the security of the country will not be taken,” Histadrut added.
“Stop this judicial process before it is too late,” the federation’s leader Arnon Bar-David said, addressing Netanyahu directly as he called the strike.
- Government: Employees at the local level walked out in cities across Israel, as did public sector workers in national ministries, according to Histadrut.
- Health care: Nurses will walk out Tuesday, in a move announced by the Israeli Nurses Association. Dozens of hospitals and medical centers have joined the strike.
- Finance: Israel’s central bank and its stock exchange are among the organizations striking, Histadrut said, along with several individual banks.
- Transport: Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion Tel Aviv, announced an immediate halt to all take-offs on Monday. They resumed a few hours later. Workers at Israel’s ports are also on strike, as are railway workers.
- Education: Universities were one of the first sectors to announce a strike, with facilities across the country closed.
- Culture: Museums have closed their doors, as have private entertainment companies like the Israel Film Industry Association, according Histadrut.
- Retail: The Azrieli Group, a chain of shopping malls, has closed its doors.
- Restaurants: McDonald’s is closing all its restaurants across Israel, the company said on Monday
Israel on Verge of Dictatorship – Ehud Barak
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is “trying to make Israel a dictatorship,” according to the country’s former leader Ehud Barak, in a blistering attack against the man he once served in Cabinet.
“It’s the most severe crisis we have had in Israel in the last 75 years,” Barak, who was Israeli prime minister between 1999 and 2001, said at an event hosted by London think tank Chatham House. “It’s a threat to our democracy and our way of life.”
Barak replaced Netanyahu as Israel’s leader and later served as his defense minister for four years. But he attacked his former boss’s new, right-wing government, saying it “acts blatantly illegitimately in what it is doing.”
“We are defending democracy against those who are using the very tools that democracy gives and the very freedom that it bestows upon its citizens in order to destroy it from within,” Barak said.
“We call it regime change from top down. They are trying to make Israel a dictatorship. We are not going to accept it. This is not going to fit into our basic values and collective psyche.”Advertisement
His intervention came as protests and strikes swept the country, amid an outpouring of anger over Netanyahu’s efforts to weaken the judiciary.