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Netanyahu postpones his controversial judicial reform due to the pressure of the protests and the political crisis


The Israeli prime minister announces a pause until the end of April to allow time for "authentic dialogue" out of "national responsibility" and to avoid a "civil war". The union central ends the general strike and the opposition extends its hand

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday the postponement until the end of April of his controversial judicial reform, which has plunged the country into one of the biggest political and social crises in its history.

Netanyahu has chosen to delay the parliamentary vote given the threat of a deterioration in the situation in the last 48 hours, with the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, new massive demonstrations and a strike that has paralyzed the ports and part of the departures since the main airport.

He has presented it in a televised address from Jerusalem as a "pause for authentic dialogue" for "national responsibility" and to avoid a "civil war", with the biblical simile of the "Solomonic decision"


He has made it clear, however, that this is not a cancellation of the project.

Immediately after the speech, the trade union central announced the end of the strike.

The leaders of the main opposition parties have expressed their willingness to dialogue.

The former prime minister and leader of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, has stressed that it must be led by the president, Isaac Herzog, and lead to the drafting of a Constitution, which Israel lacks, which is guided by a series of basic laws.

"Israel is hurt and we can't put a Band-Aid on it," he said.

In a less suspicious tone than Lapid about Netanyahu's intentions, Benny Gantz (National Unity) has declared that he will sit at the negotiating table "with an open heart" and with the aim of ending in an agreement without losers, not “convince” the promoters of the reform.

“I'm not happy, we shouldn't have gotten to this point.

I am against this government and I continue to do so, ”he has qualified.

Governments usually have 100 days of grace, but Netanyahu's coalition with ultra-rightists and ultra-Orthodox has taken only 88 to awaken the specter of a civil war to end up half-heartedly and reluctantly backing down, already with the country deeply divided.

A good part of the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets Saturday after Saturday belong to the half of Israel that lost the elections in November, but others who voted for coalition parties have also ended up joining.

A protester throws slogans against the Netanyahu government at the gates of Parliament in Jerusalem.


A protester holds a poster ridiculing the head of Israel's National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, in Jerusalem on Monday. AMMAR AWAD (REUTERS)

Mounted Israeli police stand guard as a protester makes a heart gesture during protests in Jerusalem on Monday.


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).


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.


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.


Demonstrators in Jerusalem during protests on Sunday night.


Protesters call for the resignation of the head of government, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem.


Dozens of people protest in Tel Aviv this Sunday.


A protester is detained during protests in Jerusalem this Sunday.


A water cannon is used against protesters in Jerusalem.


Hundreds of people protest the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this Sunday in Tel Aviv.

Omri Kedem (EFE)

In the afternoon, shortly before the prime minister's speech, the head of National Security and leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Itamar Ben Gvir, announced an agreement with Netanyahu to temporarily paralyze it, in exchange for promoting it "through dialogue" more forward.

"I have agreed to withdraw the veto on the rejection of the legislation in exchange for a commitment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it will be presented to the Knesset for approval in the next parliamentary season," which begins at the end of April, said Ben Gvir, one of his main supporters.

In exchange, he has assured, a National Guard will be created that will be in his charge.

The announcement represents a step back for Netanyahu in the face of the persistence of protesters and opposition and the contagion of the crises to the Armed Forces.

The prime minister, who leads the right-wing Likud party, has lowered his sails just 24 hours after dismissing Gallant for the same thing he ended up announcing and after weeks of branding the protesters anarchists, insinuating that they received foreign funding and rejecting the alternative consensus proposal presented by the president.

He only recently changed his tone, he agreed to delay the processing of part of the laws and softened one of the thorniest, while others followed their parliamentary course.

A poll broadcast by channel 11 of the national television after Netanyahu's speech shows the electoral wear that Likud and the far-right parties are suffering with respect to the electoral results of just four months ago.

Netanyahu's formation would fall from 32 to 25 seats and the Religious Zionism list from 14 to 11. The great beneficiary would be Gantz, jumping from 12 to 21. Today's opposition could form a government without problem, according to these data.

Netanyahu has spoken while some 100,000 people demonstrate in different parts of the country, especially in front of the Parliament, in Jerusalem, where the government coalition surpassed hours before a motion of censure, by 60 yeses and 51 noes in the second vote.

A few hundred have attended a counter-demonstration that has aroused fear of clashes between supporters and opponents of the reform, although the clashes have been occasional.

Coalition deputies, including Ben Gvir and also far-right Bezalel Smotrich, Finance Minister, called during the day to join the counter-demonstration in Jerusalem, called under the slogan: "They will not steal the elections from us."

One cause for concern has been the history of violence by La Familia, as the ultras of the Jerusalem Beitar soccer team are called.

In fact, Netanyahu had only spoken before this Monday to call on Twitter "all protesters in Jerusalem, left and right, to behave responsibly and not act violently."

“We are brothers,” he wrote.

The Police reinforced his deployment.

union show of strength

The great trade union center of Israel, the Histadrut (General Organization of Israel Workers), fully entered the struggle for reform this morning, with a general strike that paralyzed during the day part of the departures from the main airport (Ben Gurion, near Tel Aviv) and 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) also joined the strike. .

The Histadrut ―which for historical reasons maintains notable power in the country― announced that it would only stop the general strike if Netanyahu announced during the day the brake on the reform, as in the end has happened.

Presented in early January, the legal reform seeks to weaken the Supreme Court, change the method of electing its judges and allow Parliament to reapprove laws previously struck down by the court.

The Government defends its need to rebalance powers before a Supreme Court that, in its opinion, had too much power and acted politically.

For his detractors, it is an attack on the division of powers that endangers Israeli democracy.

Netanyahu met this afternoon with Ben Gvir, whose announcement seems to guarantee the stability of the coalition with the ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, the most right-wing in the seven decades of the country's history.

Another of the main promoters of the reform, the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, had already made it clear that, as a member of the Likud, he would respect any decision that Netanyahu made.

“We must all strive to stabilize the government and the coalition” in “a situation where everyone does what they think may cause the immediate fall of the government and the collapse of Likud,” he declared.

Protesters in Tel Aviv during the early hours of Sunday to Monday. NIR ELIAS (REUTERS)

In the morning, Herzog again called for the "immediate" stoppage of the reform, which was being debated in Parliament.

“The entire nation is gripped by fear.

Our security, economy, society... they are all threatened, ”he said in a statement that conveyed his alarm at the deterioration of coexistence.

“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.

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 ".

Gallant's removal on Saturday 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 fewer than 10 million) took part in what was probably the largest anti-reform demonstration, Gallant called publicly for the reform to be halted over the security consequences of the political and generated by the reform, such as the number of army reservists who refuse to take on certain tasks.

“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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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-27

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