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Netanyahu suspends judicial reform, protests to rage on

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
MARCH 27, 2023 22:08

Netanyahu suspends judicial reform: I will not lead Israel to civil war

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, January 8, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, January 8, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool)

Prime Minister Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday evening that he was temporarily freezing the bill that would alter the makeup of the Judicial Appointments Committee and was willing to give a "real opportunity to real dialogue" over the government's judicial reforms, which have thrown the country into turmoil and unprecedented civil unrest.

The statement came after hours of tense negotiations as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened to quit the government if the legislation did not proceed on schedule, and as tens of thousands of judicial reform opponents protested outside the Knesset. Netanyahu ended up ensuring Ben-Gvir's approval after pledging that the cabinet in its coming meeting on Sunday would approve the transfer of Israel's National Guard to Ben-Gvir's ministry.

Netanyahu said that either way, his government would bring a reform that will "return the balance that was lost between the [government] branches," while "safeguarding and even strengthening individual rights."

The prime minister criticized an "extreme" minority amongst the opponents of the reforms, likening them to the mother who is willing to sacrifice her child in the well-known biblical story of Solomon's Trial. Refusal to deploy for reserve duty signals "the end of our country," and those who support this, or who call for anarchy and violence, are willing to tear the country apart, Netanyahu said.

The prime minister added that the country was on a "dangerous path," and that he would not allow it to descend into civil war.

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MARCH 28, 2023 06:35

Judicial Selection Committee changes approved for last two readings

Critics of the reform reflected on the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Galant and the tens of thousands of protesters that had taken to the street in response.
 MK Simcha Rothman is seen gesturing amid a chaotic session of the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee in Jerusalem during a debate on judicial reform, on February 13, 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Simcha Rothman is seen gesturing amid a chaotic session of the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee in Jerusalem during a debate on judicial reform, on February 13, 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The judicial reform’s Judicial Selection Committee bill was approved to be sent to the Knesset for second and third readings in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday morning.

The bill passed 8-7. Missing from the coalition vote tally was Likud MK Tally Gotliv, who previously objected to the newest version of the bill as a capitulation to the opposition.

Police deploy stun grenades as protests continue in Tel Aviv

Police employed non-lethal crowd control measures on Tuesday morning to disperse rioters in Tel Aviv as protests continued, according to the Israel Police spokesperson.

Opposition appeals to coalition to halt legislation

Opposition members made final appeals to the coalition to stop the legislation, even citing reports rumoring that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to announce the freezing of the reform legislation.

During the votes, opposition members chanted “shame.” Labor MK Gilad Kariv was dragged out of the committee room. When Kariv returned to the room, as a revision vote was held, he unfurled an Israeli flag and shouted that the flag could not be stopped. Knesset members interrupted the reading of the bill by committee legal advisor Dr. Gur Bligh multiple times, leading to other opposition members being removed from the chamber.

Critics of the reform reflected on the events of the night before, the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the tens of thousands of protesters that had taken to the street in response.

 Opposition members were kicked out of the Law Committee for causing disruptions to the proceedings. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Opposition members were kicked out of the Law Committee for causing disruptions to the proceedings. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yesh Atid MK Yoav Segalovich said that Gallant tried to act against the danger that Netanyahu created.

Yeah Atid MK Karine Elharrar asked rhetorically “Why was he fired? Because he told the truth?”

Opposition members appeal to Rothman

Opposition members addressed Law Committee chairman Simcha Rothman directly to stop the legislation, and to pass the reform instead through a slower and cooperative process.

Labor MK Gilad Kaariv said that he had lost faith in Rothman’s ability to listen to him, instead addressing the thousands of demonstrators and other members of coalition.

“It’s on you to stop this train,” Karin said to the coalition members.

Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen warned the judicial reform was “is tearing apart the country.”

The Judicial Selection Committee bill amends the Basic Law: Judiciary to change the composition and procedures of the panel.

The current panel has nine members, consisting of the High Court of Justice President, two other justices, the justice minister, another minister, two MKs and two Bar Association representatives.

If the bill passed, the committee would be changed to have eleven members, being the High Court of Justice President, two other justices, the justice minister, two other ministers, two opposition MKs, two coalition MKs and the Law Committee chairman. When appointing lower court candidates, the justices would be replaced by magistrate and district court presidents.

In the current system, about 80% of members are needed to approve a High Court of Justice candidate, and a simple majority for lower courts.

In the proposed system, a simple majority would vote would be needed for a High Court candidate, and seven panelists in agreement for a lower court candidate. Once two High Court candidates were appointed in one term, an opposition member's vote would be needed to advance a third candidate. A fourth candidate in the same term would require a judicial representative's support.

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MARCH 28, 2023 00:36

Police deploy stun grenades during Tel Aviv protests

Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF) Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

Police employed non-lethal crowd control measures on Tuesday morning to disperse rioters in Tel Aviv as protests continued, according to the Israel Police spokesperson.

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MARCH 27, 2023 22:47

Israelis continue to protest following Netanyahu's statement

 An aerial view shows protesters attending a demonstration against the Israeli government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER) An aerial view shows protesters attending a demonstration against the Israeli government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

Israelis continued to protest on Monday against the judicial reform as the people waited for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement in which he was expected to announce a temporary end to the judicial reform legislation.

Israel Police announced on Monday that several roads near the Knesset building have been blocked as a result of protests in the area, including Rupin St., Rabin St., HaNasi HaShishi, Sderot HaMuze'onim, Lorch St., Azza St., Zusman St. and Kaplan St. The entrance to Jerusalem by Chords Bridge was also blocked by protesters, but police announced that the bridge had been re-opened to traffic a short time later. 

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MARCH 27, 2023 22:41

Opposition split on how to handle Netanyahu's judicial reform freeze

Lapid said that if indeed the legislation would come to a "real and complete" stop, he was prepared to enter dialogue at the president's residence.
 Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid addresses protesters at a demonstration after against the government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid addresses protesters at a demonstration after against the government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement that he would freeze the judicial reform legislation until after the Knesset's Passover recess split the central opposition parties, as opposition leader and Yesh Atid party chairman MK Yair Lapid and National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz agreed to enter negotiations, while Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman and Labor chairwoman MK Merav Michaeli warning of a trap.

Lapid said that if indeed the legislation would come to a "real and complete" stop, he was prepared to enter dialogue at the president's residence.

"If the government comes for real and fair dialogue, we will be able to exit this crisis stronger and more united, and turn this moment into a defining moment of shared life," Lapid said.

However, if Netanyahu conducts political "aerobics," he will find facing him "hundreds of thousands of Israeli patriots who are determined to fight for our democracy," Lapid said.

Lapid refused to call for the protests against the judicial reforms to pause, saying that it was best to wait and see whether Netanyahu acted on what he said.

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MARCH 27, 2023 22:25

Demonstrations to continue over the weekend - protest organizers

Organizers also said that local protests are expected to take place throughout the country on Tuesday.
 An aerial view shows protesters attending a demonstration against the Israeli government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER) An aerial view shows protesters attending a demonstration against the Israeli government's judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

Anti-judicial reform protest organizers announced on Monday evening that protests would continue over the weekend on Saturday despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement that the judicial reform legislation would be paused. 

Protests are expected to be centered in Tel Aviv, although there will be local demonstrations nationwide. 

The organizers also said that local protests are expected to take place throughout the country on Tuesday. 

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MARCH 27, 2023 22:10

US, UK welcome Netanyahu’s decision to pause judicial reform

"All of that concern comes from ... a place of respect and friendship and admiration for the Israeli people, for Israel as a country and for Israel's democracy," Kirby said.
 US President Joe Biden with Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu on July 14, 2022 (photo credit: RAANAN COHEN/MAARIV) US President Joe Biden with Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu on July 14, 2022 (photo credit: RAANAN COHEN/MAARIV)

The United States and the United Kingdom welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to pause the juice reform process to allow time to reach a consensus with the opposition on the plane.

“We welcome this announcement as an opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of delaying the judicial overhaul.

“Compromise is precisely what we have been calling for, and we continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.

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MARCH 27, 2023 21:57

Netanyahu suspends judicial reform - now is the time to move forward - comment

The judicial reform was a personal, not national matter - the hope now is that a real dialogue will begin.
 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Justice Minister Yariv Levin and MK Arye Deri in the Knesset on March 27, 2023 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Justice Minister Yariv Levin and MK Arye Deri in the Knesset on March 27, 2023 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

This was never about legislation that would have a lasting effect. This was about Netanyahu helping his trial, Levin exacting revenge on the court and Deri being able to serve as a minister. This was personal, not national. It was not for the country but for the few who claimed that their personal interest was what the country needed the most.

The hope now is that a real dialogue will begin.

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MARCH 27, 2023 21:16

Israeli airspace opens after Ben-Gurion Airport lifts strike

This announcement followed a previous statement saying there would be no flights leaving Ben-Gurion Airport in protest of the judicial reform.
 An ElAl boeing 744 plane. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons) An ElAl boeing 744 plane. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

16 flights are scheduled to take off before midnight on Tuesday and another 16 are scheduled to take off between midnight and 1:40 a.m., according to a Monday evening announcement from Israel's Airport Authority. 

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MARCH 27, 2023 21:00

Polish Deputy FM says Israel consulted on judicial overhaul, then backtracked

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski spoke out as the Histadrut called a nationwide strike to protest the government's judicial reform process.

Israel consulted with Warsaw over the country’s judicial reform program Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told the media organization RMF24 during its morning talk show and then backtracked on his assertion.

“Of course, we are talking with Israel, and to some extent, we shared our experiences in this regard,” Jablonski.

“The Israeli side itself asked us about it...I'm telling the honest truth. Israel was interested in what was happening in Poland. We were interested in what was happening in Israel,” he explained.

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Important facts


  • Netanyahu announces judicial reform freeze, saying he "will not lead Israel to a civil war"
  • Prime minister makes concessions to Ben-Gvir in return for support
  • Right-wing MKs, ministers promise reform to tens of thousands of pro-government protesters in Jerusalem
  • Police continue to clash with judicial reform protesters in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv