Middle East

Does Netanyahu stop the judicial reform?

Mass protests, a general strike and the army on alert: The protests against the planned judicial reform in Israel reach a new highlight.

The pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu is immense: will he stop the reform?

In Israel, the political crisis after the dismissal of the Minister of Defense Joav galant has dramatically worsened because of his criticism of a controversial judicial reform. Tens of thousands of people flocked to the streets at night to protest against the dismissal ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the reform plans of his right-religious government. The protests continued in the morning too.

General strike announced

The umbrella organization of unions in Israel announced a “historical” general strike. The international airport at Ben-Gurion at Tel Aviv is also affected. It is expected that tens of thousands of passengers have to wait or rebook.

President calls for immediate stop

President Isaac Herzog called on the government to give in. “For the sake of the unity of the Israeli people, for the sake of responsibility, I ask them to immediately hire the legislation,” he said in the early morning. People are in deep fear.

In view of the dangerous location, Netanyahu, according to media reports, held an urgency meeting to continue procedure at night. With coalition politicians, he is said to have advised on a possible suspension of the reform project.

Speech to the nation planned

Accordingly, Netanyahu is still planning a speech to the nation today. The speech, originally planned for 9:00 a.m. (CEST), was delayed in the morning. The background should be a dispute within the coalition. Accordingly, several ministers announced that they want to resign, Netanyahu should announce a stop of the reform.

The core element of the reform takes further hurdle

Regardless of the massive protests, a core element of the controversial reform had meanwhile overcome another hurdle in the morning. The Parliament’s Justice Committee approved the legal text that is supposed to change the composition of the judge’s election committee. The design was also transferred to the plenum for the final reading. The government would give the government a majority in the body and thus a significant impact on the appointment of judges.

Defense Minister released

Netanyahu had galant released the previous evening because of his call to stop the judicial reform. There have been violent protests against the reform with which the influence of the highest court and the government’s position of power is to be strengthened at the expense of the independent judiciary.

The previous Minister of Defense had called for the government to dialogue with critics on Saturday evening. He warned that the national security and in particular the usability of the army were at stake. There has been talk of growing resentment in the military for weeks, and numerous reservists had not appeared for service in protest against the reform.

Tens of thousands protest

On the streets, the anger of many people breaks rails who fear democracy in Israel. In Tel Aviv, demonstrators blocked the central road to Jerusalem on Sunday evening with Israel flags and set fire to tires. The police went against the crowd with equestrian squadrons and water cannons, from which stones flew to the emergency services.

In Jerusalem, angry people broke through a roadblock next to Netanyahus residential building. Universities announced a preliminary lesson stop in protest against Galant’s dismissal and reform plans. Several mayors entered hunger strike and demanded immediate containment of the national crisis.

Opposition: “Red line exceeded”

The opposition politicians Jair Lapid and Benny Gantz asked Netanyahus party colleagues in a joint message “not to participate in the destruction of national security”. The head of government “exceeded a red line”.

USA call to compromise

The plans also trigger criticism internationally. The US government as the most important ally said “deeply concerned”. In view of the planned “basic changes to a democratic system”, the White House emphasized the Israeli leadership as soon as possible.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that Israel has been in the greatest danger since the Jom Kippur War in 1973. Arab states surprisingly attacked Israel at the time at the highest Jewish holiday. Bennett called Netanyahu to withdraw Galant’s dismissal, to suspend the reform and to record a dialogue with the opponents.

Security experts warn

Security experts warn, enemies of Israel – above all Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and militant Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip – could use the favor of attacks on the land weakened by the crisis.

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