JERUSALEM - Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has delayed his government’s controversial judicial reform plans until the next parliamentary session. He said that the country has been facing a crisis that poses a threat to national unity. Mass protests and widespread strikes have been taking place over the plans. A key party in Netanyahu’s coalition - the far right Jewish Power party - earlier backed the delay, but only to the next legislative session. The proposed changes to the justice system have provoked an outpouring of anger from nearly all parts of Israeli society, including its powerful military. The coalition government, Israel’s most right-wing ever, wants to take full control over the committee which appoints judges.
Netanyahu says the changes will stop courts over-reaching their powers, but critics say they will help him as he faces an ongoing trial for corruption
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is “aware of the tensions” and is “listening to the people.” Referring to the refusal of some Israel Defense Forces reservists to train in protest at the government plans to overhaul the judiciary, Netanyahu said: The state of Israel cannot continue with people who refuse to serve in the army. Refusing, it’s the end of our country.”
“Out of the responsibility to the nation, I decided to delay ... the vote, in order to give time for discussion,” he added. Earlier, Israel’s top trade union chief called a general strike Monday over the hard-right government’s controversial judicial reforms, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his defence minister who had called for a stop to the overhaul. “I am calling a general strike,” Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David said in a televised address. “From the moment this press conference ends, the State of Israel stops.
“We have a mission to stop this legislative process and we will do it,” he said, vowing to “continue to fight”.
The Israel Medical Association quickly followed suit, also announcing “a full strike in the health system” that will impact all public hospitals.
Netanyahu was expected to address the nation later Monday, with speculation in Israeli media that he could pause the judicial reforms.
The nationwide walkout was called hours after Israeli President Isaac Herzog pressed for an immediate halt to the judicial programme, following major demonstrations in Tel Aviv overnight in response to the defence minister’s dismissal