Monday, April 3, 2023

As protests erupt, Israel's government postpones a contentious judiciary bill

Israeli govt delays disputed judiciary bill as protests rage

 JERUSALEM: Due to concerns that Israel's worst national crisis could fracture his coalition or escalate into violence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed a decision on bitterly contested plans for a judicial overhaul on Monday. After widespread protests and growing labor strikes, it was unclear how much the bill's delay until next month's new parliamentary session will satisfy either side or calm a crisis that the army chief said made "this hour different from any before."

In a television address, he stated, "From a desire to prevent the rift in the nation, I have decided to delay the second and third reading in order to reach a broad consensus," describing the move as "a chance to avoid a civil war."

Security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu's hard-right coalition partner, stated that he had agreed to the delay in exchange for the opportunity to establish a National Guard within his ministry, a move that has been fiercely criticized by opponents as giving Netanyahu his own militia.

Netanyahu's remarks came a day after he fired his guard serve, Yoav Chivalrous, who had required an end to the official interaction refering to public safety concerns. Tens of thousands of protesters had gathered near Jerusalem's parliament prior to the prime minister's speech earlier on Monday following the strike declaration. Hospitals had stopped providing non-emergency services, flights had been disrupted, and even diplomats had walked out on the job. Arnon Bar-David, chairman of the Histadrut trade union confederation, however, called off the strike as soon as Netanyahu announced the pause.

Israeli media estimated that approximately 80,000 people participated in the Jerusalem rally against the reform package, the most recent such demonstration to attract tens of thousands. The stoppage likewise impacted trips at Ben Gurion Global Air terminal close to Tel Aviv, where a columnist saw various postponed takeoffs. Elad Strohmayer, a spokesperson for the Washington embassy, tweeted that the Israeli mission "will be closed... until further notice." Diplomatic staff were among those who left.

Some of the largest mass protests in Israeli history have been sparked by the government's plan to tighten parliament's control over judicial processes. Opponents of the plan call the move a threat to democracy. Law-abiding individuals, including far-right football fans, have staged counterdemonstrations, and the police stated that they were intensifying their efforts in response to threats of violent attacks on left-wing Israelis made on social media.

Benny Gantz, the leader of the opposition, stated that while the decision was "better late than never," he would not compromise on the "basics of democracy" in any discussion regarding the new law.

In a rare political intervention earlier on Monday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog pleaded with Netanyahu to halt his judicial overhaul for the sake of national unity, declaring that doing so was "the right thing to do."

Israel's allies, including the United States, have expressed concern about the plans of the government. The statement that "democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship" had been made by President Joe Biden to Netanyahu was noted by the White House.

"a clear, immediate and tangible threat to Israel's security" was the citation provided on Saturday by Yoav Gallant, the departing defense minister who had been a steadfast ally of Netanyahu. He stated, referring to the threats made by members of the reserve military not to report for duty, " The army and security agencies have been affected by the widening social divide."

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