Protests and strikes break out in Israel over Netanyahu’s desired judicial overhaul

APTOPIX Israel Politics
Israelis opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan set up bonfires and block a highway during a protest moments after the Israeli leader fired his defense minister, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, March 26, 2023. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had called on Netanyahu to freeze the plan, citing deep divisions in the country and turmoil in the military. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg) Ohad Zwigenberg/AP

Protests and strikes break out in Israel over Netanyahu’s desired judicial overhaul

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In response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to overhaul the country’s judicial framework, thousands of citizens across the country are protesting and striking to try and halt the leader’s plan.

Thousands of Israeli citizens poured into the streets of Tel Aviv late Sunday night to protest Netanyahu’s dismissal of Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant after Gallant pressed the prime minister’s office to pause the plans for the judicial overhaul. Flights are suspended at Ben Gurion Airport as of 4 a.m. EST after the Histadrut labor union announced a strike. About 73,000 passengers were expected to travel through the busy airport Monday, according to Haaretz.

NETANYAHU FIRES MINISTER OF DEFENSE AFTER HE PRESSED FOR HALTING JUDICIAL OVERHAUL

The U.S. has expressed severe distress over the hostilities in Israel, with President Joe Biden reportedly telling Netanyahu last week he’s never seen tensions in the country so high. On Sunday, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson released a statement on the developments in the Middle Eastern country.

“We are deeply concerned by today’s developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise,” Watson said, reiterating Biden’s position that checks and balances strengthen democracy and “democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

“We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible. We believe that is the best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens. U.S. support for Israel’s security and democracy remains ironclad,” Watson added.

The planned judicial overhaul comes down to this: Under the proposed plan, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, would gain the ability to overrule Supreme Court rulings. Netanyahu has argued the reforms are necessary to streamline the legislative process and prevent judicial overreach. But many citizens disagree and have loudly protested across Israel, demonstrations that have even seeped into the Israel Defense Forces. Businesses are expected to join in on the strike Monday.

In response to the protests, which have included setting up bonfires and blocking streets, Netanyahu delayed a speech he had planned for Monday morning amid reports that the far-right parties in his coalition are threatening to break up the government if he halts the judicial overhaul. His speech was expected to include an announcement of a freeze on the controversial legislation, per the Times of Israel.

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The Israeli news outlet added that local authorities have threatened to join the strike, with Haim Bibas, the chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities, saying Israel “has reached the point of almost no return.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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