Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halted his controversial judicial reform amid an intense backlash that has created one of the most significant domestic crises in the country’s history.
His national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced late Monday that the plan was being put on hold until the parliament’s summer session, which begins on April 30, giving time for the rival sides to seek a compromise.
Israeli labor unions launched a nationwide strike, malls and ports were closed and airlines were grounded as opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary threatened to upend the nation’s economy.
The chaos came after floods of protesters stormed the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in response to Netanyahu’s abrupt ousting of his defense minister, who had opposed his controversial judicial reform plan. The plan, driven by the country’s new right-wing government, would weaken the role of the Israeli Supreme Court, and intense opposition has sparked what some analysts say is among the country’s worst crises ever.
On Sunday, the protests included highway bonfires and knocking down police barricades outside Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.
It was unclear Monday whether Netanyahu would respond to pressure to halt his plan. The Biden administration weighed in on Sunday, urging compromise as it said it was “deeply concerned” about democratic values in Israel.
Over the weekend, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a statement that Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul posed a security threat to Israel, which prompted his firing. Military reservists have refused to sign up for duty because of the plan.
Gallant had been the first senior member of Netanyahu’s political party to speak out against the plan. Still, many in the party were urging the prime minister to press ahead.
Contributing: The Associated Press