JERUSALEM – March 27: Israelis gather outside the Knesset, carrying Israeli flags and anti-government banners, to protest against the Israeli government’s plan to introduce judicial reforms.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government survived a no-confidence vote in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, amid the largest protests in Israel’s history.
Mass protests have rocked Israel, and the country’s largest labor union announced a major strike on Monday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s months-long effort to push through widely-scorned judicial reforms that protesters say will push the country toward autocracy.
“Stop this judicial process before it’s too late,” Arnon Bar-David, head of Israel’s Histadrut trade union, said in a televised address to Netanyahu. The Histadrut – which represents Israel’s majority trade unionists with 800,000 members – announced a “historic” general strike to “stop this judicial revolution, this madness”, Bar-David said.
Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said on Monday the government must pursue reforms.
“The reform of the justice system must not stop and we must not surrender to anarchy” he said on TwitterAccording to Google Translate.
According to Reuters, Justice Minister Yariv Levin pledged his support for any decision Netanyahu makes on judicial reform.
“A situation where everyone does as they please is liable to bring about the immediate collapse of the government (the ruling party) and the collapse of the Likud,” Levin said. “We must all work to stabilize the government and the coalition.”
Flights out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv were halted as airport workers went on strike, and workers at Israel’s two largest ports, Haifa and Ashdod, stopped working. McDonald’s Israel said it has closed branches as part of the strike action.
Leumi, Israel’s largest bank, is closing branches as part of a judicial reform campaign, Reuters reported.
Demonstrations across Israel have erupted over the past four months, fueled by anger over controversial judicial reforms pushed by Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history. The planned overhaul would significantly weaken the country’s judiciary and make it harder to remove Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, from power.
The proposed reforms would give the Supreme Court executive control over the appointment of judges, as well as the government’s right to overturn court decisions through a parliamentary majority.
Monday’s demonstrations gained a new impetus and were said to be the largest since Netanyahu fired his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for speaking out against the planned measures. Local news reported that 600,000 people were protesting across the country.
“600,000 people are protesting. Roughly 6.5% of Israel’s population is protesting tonight, and many people woke up when they heard Bibi Gallant was fired,” said Monica Marks, professor of Middle East politics at NYU Abu Dhabi. He wrote on Twitter. “When was the last time 6+% protested in any country? Real question.”
Netanyahu has branded the protests an attempt to “create anarchy” and to trigger another election. Deeply divided Israel has held five snap elections since April 2019.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told lawmakers on Monday, “We have never been closer to secession.”
“What has happened here in the last 24 hours is madness, it has lost control and lost direction. It is proof that this government has lost its brakes,” he said, calling on Netanyahu to withdraw his firing. His defense minister.
“This is a danger to the State of Israel, a danger to Israel’s security. Our home is in danger,” Lapid added.
Earlier on Monday, President Isaac Herzog — whose status is largely ceremonial and apolitical — He took to Twitter The administration should be called upon to interfere with its judicial review.
“For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to immediately stop the legislative process,” he said in a Google translation.
“I appeal to all coalition and opposition leaders to put the citizens of the country first and act with responsibility and courage without further delay. Come to your senses now! This is not a moment for politics. This is a moment for leadership and responsibility.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu’s office He announced his dismissal Defense Minister Yves Gallant, who opposed the motion, escalated the protests.
“We must all stand strong against the denials,” Netanyahu He said on Twitter At the time of notice without directly mentioning the gallant.