In Israel, the domestic political crisis is coming to a head in the course of the controversial judicial reform. The Kanal 12 broadcaster reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed his statement on a freeze on the reform, which was originally planned for the morning, due to differences within the governing coalition. There is no official confirmation on this yet.
A representative of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party had previously said that the prime minister would stop the reform. Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partner Itamar Ben-Gvir, on the other hand, called for the plans to be adhered to. The government must not “capitulate to anarchy” after the night’s mass protests, he tweeted.
The situation in Israel escalated with the dismissal of Defense Minister Joav Galant because of his criticism of the judicial reform. Tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets of Tel Aviv that night to protest Netanyahu’s dismissal and the reform plans of his right-wing religious government.
Mass protests against the Netanyahu government and the controversial judicial reform at night in Tel Aviv
After 200,000 people had already flocked there on Saturday, countless demonstrators with Israeli flags blocked the central road to Jerusalem on Sunday evening in Tel Aviv and set tires on fire. The police used cavalry squadrons and water cannons against the crowd, from which stones were thrown at the emergency services. Angry people broke through a roadblock next to Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.
Histadrut threatens general strike
Universities announced a temporary freeze on teaching in protest at Galant’s dismissal and reform plans. Several mayors went on hunger strike, demanding an immediate containment of the national crisis. The umbrella organization of trade unions (Histadrut) threatened a general strike. Histadrut leader Arnon Bar-David told Netanyahu: “Bring sanity back to the country. If you don’t announce today that you’ve changed your mind, we will go on strike.”
The union federation represents more than 700,000 workers in healthcare, transport and banking. The strike could paralyze large parts of the Israeli economy. Israeli media reported that departures from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport had already been suspended.
Former Defense Minister Galant had called on the government to engage in dialogue with critics. He warned that national security, and particularly the army’s operational capability, was at stake. There has been talk of growing resentment in the military for weeks. In protest against the reform, numerous reservists did not show up for duty.
Israel’s President Izchak Herzog has also called on the government to give in. “For the sake of the unity of the Israeli people, for the sake of responsibility, I urge you to stop legislation immediately,” he said early Monday morning. The people are in deep fear.
There have been violent protests for months against the judicial reform, which aims to limit the influence of the Supreme Court and strengthen the government’s position of power at the expense of the independent judiciary. The government accuses the Supreme Court of improper interference in political decisions. In future, the right-wing religious coalition plans to overturn the decisions of the Supreme Court with a simple majority. And the prime minister should be better protected against impeachment. Critics see the separation of powers in danger, some even warn against the creeping introduction of a dictatorship.
sti/AR (afp, ap, dpa, rtr)