Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured the nation that he is “doing excellently” after an unscheduled pacemaker implant, and he is expected to attend a crucial judicial reform vote on Monday amid nationwide protests and calls for compromise.
With Israel facing one of its most significant domestic crises in decades, President Isaac Herzog visited Netanyahu in the hospital to bridge the divide between the religious-nationalist ruling coalition and opposition parties.
“This is an emergency. Agreement must be reached,” stated Herzog, who previously tried to mediate talks between conflicting parties without success.
The Knesset, where Netanyahu holds a comfortable majority, is set to hold final readings of a bill that seeks to limit the Supreme Court’s powers to overrule certain government decisions. This bill represents the first of a series of reforms that critics fear will undermine judicial independence. However, Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for corruption charges he denies, argues that these reforms are necessary to maintain a balance among government branches.
The 73-year-old leader was rushed to a hospital near Tel Aviv after a heart monitor detected a “temporary arrhythmia,” leading to the implantation of a pacemaker. He is scheduled for discharge on Monday.
In a video statement from the hospital, a smiling Netanyahu reassured the public, “As you can see, I am doing excellently.” He expressed his commitment to legislative efforts and hinted at the possibility of finding a consensus on the matter.
Debates on the bill commenced on Sunday, which aims to amend a law that enables the Supreme Court to nullify government decisions deemed “unreasonable.” A poll conducted by national broadcaster Kan revealed that 46% of Israelis opposed the amendment, 35% were in favor, and 19% remained undecided.
The Histadrut labor federation proposed a scaled-down version of the bill, which could potentially serve as the basis for new compromise talks. However, Netanyahu’s Likud party dismissed it as too similar to the opposition leader Yair Lapid’s positions.
In response to the proposed judicial overhaul, tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Jerusalem to protest, while counter-protesters assembled in Tel Aviv, advocating for the reforms.
Netanyahu’s coalition aims to push back against what they view as a Supreme Court that has become politically interventionist. On the other hand, critics argue that the rushed amendment will undermine checks on executive authority, leading to potential abuses of power.
The crisis has also affected the military, with protest leaders stating that thousands of volunteer reservists will not report for duty if the government proceeds with the plans. Former top brass warned that Israel’s war-readiness could be at risk.
The situation has strained relations with the U.S., with Washington calling on Netanyahu to seek broad consensus on judicial reforms. Netanyahu’s health issues have caused the postponement of his planned trips to Cyprus and Turkey.
As the political landscape remains tense, Israelis await the outcome of the judicial reform vote and its potential implications on the nation’s governance and stability.
Source : Reuters
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