While the Israeli Prime Minister announced judicial overhaul, the country's protest leaders are adamant that they will continue to keep the pressure on the government until the highly contested judicial reform is shelved entirely. According to Euronews, even after Bejamin Netanyahu's Monday address in which he blamed the “extremist minority” for the ongoing protest.
"The coup d’etat laws must be shelved completely,” read a statement from the Movement for Quality Government, a non-governmental organisation, as per the report by the Washington Post. “Not paused, not halted. Shelved. The suspension of the legislation looks like a cheap political exercise designed entirely to wait for a good time to bring the blitz of anti-democratic legislation back into our lives,” the group added. Netanyahu in his address also stated that he is delaying the final reading of the reform to “avoid rift” in the country.
"From a national responsibility, from the will to avoid the rift within the people, I decided to suspend the second and third reading from the law in this Knesset tenure to give time to get to a broad consensus to pass the legislation during the next Knesset," Netanyahu said. The Israeli Prime Minister was supposed to address the nation at 10:00 am (local time) on Monday. However, the Prime Minister decided to postpone the address to deal with his coalition which was in disagreement. He, however, gave the televised address at 8:05 pm on Monday (local time), following which the protest simmered down a little. However, the union leaders are clear that they will not give up until the bill is completely scrapped.
Extraordinary protests in Israel. #Israel pic.twitter.com/5hJhb6Ttxd— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) March 26, 2023
Things started escalating after Netanyahu fired Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, who initially urged the Israeli Premier to not go ahead with the reforms. The union leaders initiated the nationwide strike after the Israeli PM delayed making any statements on the issue. From docks to malls, the whole nation was instantly paralysed as the protests spread like a wildfire. The protestors in Tel Aviv blocked the main highways and lit large bonfires to protest against the Netanyahu administration.
Gallant reiterated his concern and stated that the ongoing protests will give an opportunity for Israel's enemies to attack the nation. The chaos attracted International condemnation as well. Before Netanyahu’s address to the United States National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby said that the radical judicial reform which the Israeli Prime Minister is trying to push “flies in the face of the whole idea of checks and balances.” However, Washington lauded the Monday announcement made by Netanyahu. “We welcome this announcement as an opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing, hours after Netanyahu gave the televised statement. “Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support,” she added.
While the leaders are urging the people to continue with the protests, the demonstrations across the countries have reduced significantly. But the matter does not end there. While Netanyahu announced that he is delaying the judicial overhaul, he hasn’t scrapped the bill altogether. The Netanyahu administration will now try to navigate and convince members of the coalition to ensure that his government does not collapse over the issue. While some leaders are willing to change their stance on the issue, far-right leaders like Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir are urging the Israeli PM to not “surrender to anarchy”. Hence it will be interesting to see what the next Knesset session will bring to the table and which way the wind will blow.