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Benjamin Netanyahu Suspends Judicial Reform Plan

benjamin netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu (screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended his government’s plan to enact radical judicial reforms in Israel and agreed to accept calls for negotiations on some sort of compromise deal with the leaders of the opposition. The decision came after Israel was shut down on Monday as its national labor federation the Histadrut called for a general strike in protest – a strike that included the cancelation of all outgoing flights from Ben-Gurion International airport – a strike which was joined by a number of Israeli high-tech firms.

Warning that ongoing divisions in the country could lead to civil war and citing this as his reason for the pause, Netanyahu said, “out of national responsibility, out of a desire to prevent a rift in the nation, I have decided to suspend the second and third readings of the law in the current Knesset session in order to allow time to try and reach that broad consensus, ahead of legislation in the next Knesset session.”

But Netanyahu also pledged, “One way or another, we will enact a reform that will restore the balance between the authorities that has been lost, by preserving – and I add, even by strengthening – individual rights.”

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The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to condemn the growing calls by some to refuse to perform military reserve duties in protest over the government’s judicial reform plan.

“There is one thing that I cannot accept,” he said. “There is an extremist minority that is prepared to tear our country to pieces. It is using violence and incitement, it is threatening to harm elected officials, it is stoking civil war, and it is calling for refusal to serve, which is a terrible crime.”

“The State of Israel cannot exist without the IDF and the IDF cannot exist with refusal to serve. Refusal to serve by one side will lead to refusal to serve by the other. Refusal to serve is the end of our country,” he added, also demanding the heads of the security services and of the army “vigorously oppose the phenomenon of refusal to serve, not contain it, not understand it, not accept it – but put a stop to it.”

President of Israel Isaac Herzog welcomed the decision saying, “Stopping the legislation is the right thing. This is the time to begin a sincere, serious, and responsible dialogue that will urgently calm the waters and lower the flames.”

The President called on all to act responsibly saying, “Protests and demonstrations, on whichever side – yes. Violence – absolutely not! If one side wins, the state will lose. We must remain one people and one state – Jewish and democratic.”

Massive protests have rocked Israel over the past few months, ever since Justice Minister Yariv Levin revealed the government’s plans to alter the nature of Israel’s judicial system. The government’s judicial reform plan would greatly curtail the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify legislation passed by the Knesset and also limit the authority of Israel’s attorney general. The opposition charges this would harm Israel’s democracy, eroding foreign confidence in the country and hurting its economy. And this is why the country is now on the brink of what some are describing as the biggest societal clash in Israel’s history.



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