The great trade union center of Israel, the Histadrut (General Organization of Israel Workers), has entered fully into the struggle for the controversial judicial reform this Monday with a general strike whose first consequence has been the paralysis of the main airport and ports of the country .
The Histadrut ―which for historical reasons maintains notable power in the country― has started a general strike that will stop if the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announces during the day the brake on the reform.
Netanyahu ― who dismissed his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this Sunday ― had planned since morning to deliver a speech that continues to be delayed, while tens of thousands of Israelis are already demonstrating in Tel Aviv and in front of Parliament, in Jerusalem, where the government coalition has passed a motion of no confidence,
by 60 yeses and 51 noes in the second ballot.
The call for a counter-demonstration for the afternoon has raised the specter of clashes between supporters and opponents of the reform.
"I have ordered the immediate stoppage of airport takeoffs," said Pinchas Idan, head of the central office at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, and a member of Likud, the right-wing party led by Netanyahu.
Planes in the air bound for Tel Aviv will be allowed to land.
The airport is operating with minimal services.
The strategic ports of Haifa and Ashdod, the staff of the embassies abroad, the main banks, the national electricity company, large hotel, fashion and food chains, and the Tel Aviv City Hall (whose mayor, Ron Huldai, belongs to the opposition Labor Party) have also joined the union strike.
Shortly before the announcement of the strike, the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has once again called for the "immediate" halt of the reform, which is being debated this Monday in Parliament.
“The entire nation is gripped by fear.
Our security, economy, society... they are all threatened," he said in a statement with an urgent tone.
“I call on the leaders of all factions in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), both coalition and opposition, to put the country's citizens above all else and act boldly and responsibly without further delay.
This is not a political moment, it is a moment for leadership and responsibility”, he stressed.
A protester throws slogans against the Netanyahu government at the gates of Parliament in Jerusalem.
HAZEM BADER (AFP)
The aerial view of the protest, this Monday, where the banner "Save Our Startup Nation" is read. STRINGER (REUTERS)
Demonstrators with the flags of Israel and gay pride, in front of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
Israelis protest near the Supreme Court of Israel during a demonstration on Monday, March 27. ILAN ROSENBERG (REUTERS)
Long queues at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport after several flights were canceled due to protests.
GIL COHEN-MAGEN (AFP)
Two workers at the Ben Gurion airport (Jerusalem) look on Monday, March 27, at a board of departure flights canceled until further notice due to widespread strikes in protest of judicial review. Amir Levy (EL PAÍS)
Protesters gather in front of the Knesset, before the massive protests in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023.ATEF SAFADI (EFE)
Women dressed as maidens from "The Handmaid's Tale" attend a demonstration in Jerusalem on Monday, March 27. AMMAR AWAD (REUTERS)
Hundreds of people block the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv this Sunday.
Guy Yechiely (EFE)
Several demonstrators hold the national flag of Israel during protests in Jerusalem on Sunday.
RONEN ZVULUN (REUTERS)
Demonstrators in Jerusalem during protests on Sunday night.
RONEN ZVULUN (REUTERS)
Protesters call for the resignation of the head of government, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem.
AMMAR AWAD (REUTERS)
Dozens of people protest in Tel Aviv this Sunday.
NIR ELIAS (REUTERS)
A protester is detained during protests in Jerusalem this Sunday.
RONEN ZVULUN (REUTERS)
A water cannon is used against protesters in Jerusalem.
RONEN ZVULUN (REUTERS)
Hundreds of people protest the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this Sunday in Tel Aviv.
Omri Kedem (EFE)
So has the former prime minister and now leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid.
"Our house is in danger [...] It is almost too late, but not yet", he said, asking the Likud ministers "not to be silent", to be aware of the importance of the moment and to stop the reform, that seeks to weaken the Supreme Court, change the method of electing its judges and allow Parliament to reapprove laws previously overthrown by the court.
The media suggest that Netanyahu will announce in his speech the halting of the reform.
According to local media, he is meeting with his Minister of National Security, the far-right Itamar Ben Gvir, who is threatening to resign.
The announcement would jeopardize the stability of his coalition with ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, the most right-wing in the country's seven decades of history.
However, one of the main promoters of the reform, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, has already made it clear that, as a member of Likud, he will respect any decision Netanyahu makes.
“We must all strive to stabilize the government and the coalition” in “a situation in which each one does what he thinks could cause the immediate fall of the government and the collapse of Likud,” he declared.
Coalition MPs are sharing the call to join the counter-demonstration in Jerusalem, called "They won't steal our elections."
One of the reasons for concern is the history of violence of La familia, as the ultras of the Beitar football team in Jerusalem are called, who will participate in the protest.
In fact, in his first statement since the announcement of the dismissal of the Defense Minister, Netanyahu has made "an appeal to all the protesters in Jerusalem, from the right and left, to behave responsibly and not act with violence."
“We are brothers”, he has written on Twitter.
Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Shas ultra-orthodox Sephardic party, also part of the Executive, spoke along the same lines last week.
After consulting with the spiritual leaders of the formation, he pointed out that he will support "every decision" made by Netanyahu and the Likud, despite being one of the main stakeholders in the reform going forward.
The Supreme Court annulled his appointment as Minister of the Interior and Health in January, considering it “extremely unreasonable”, for having been convicted of a tax offense and for the express change in the legislation that allowed it.
One of the reform laws, approved at first reading and baptized by the media as "Deri 2 ″ because of its tailor-made suit for the former minister, would prevent the Supreme Court from intervening in" any matter related to the appointment of a minister or the dismissal of the ".
Protesters in Tel Aviv during the early hours of Sunday to Monday. NIR ELIAS (REUTERS)
The strike comes 12 hours after Netanyahu dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for distancing himself from the reform.
The decision brought tens of thousands of people across the country to the streets, with Tel Aviv again as the epicenter.
The call was spontaneous, through WhatsApp groups, and spread to the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva and Petaj Tikva.
The protesters in Tel Aviv blocked the important Ayalón highway for five hours, which the police only evacuated at 03:00 in the morning (02:00, in mainland Spain), when barely a thousand people remained.
On Saturday, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis (in a country of less than 10 million) participated in what was probably the largest demonstration against the reform, Gallant called publicly to stop the reform due to the security consequences of the political and social schism generated by reform, such as the number of army reservists refusing to take on certain tasks and the risk that this circumstance will be used to attack Israel.
“The growing schism in our society is penetrating the Armed Forces and the security forces, which poses a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the State.
I will not allow it, ”he said.
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