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JUDICIAL REFORM STANDOFF

Netanyahu to announce halt to judicial reform until May, after Knesset recess

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has agreed to the pause, seemingly removing the prospect of the government’s collapse.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

On Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to announce the freezing of the government’s judicial reform effort until May, when the Knesset reconvenes after its upcoming recess for the Passover holiday.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir revealed the prospective move on Monday evening and said that his Otzma Yehudit Party had agreed to the pause, seemingly preventing a collapse of the government.

“I agreed to remove my veto on the postponement of the legislation in exchange for a commitment [from Netanyahu] that the bills be brought to the Knesset for approval in the next session if no agreements are reached during the recess,” said Ben-Gvir in a statement.

He added that the coalition would attempt to engage in negotiations before attempting to pass the reforms.

For his part, Netanyahu also agreed to green-light the formation of a civilian national guard under Ben-Gvir’s authority during the next cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu was scheduled to address the country at 10 a.m. local time but delayed the speech after members of his coalition threatened to bring down the government.

The standoff over the reform package reached a critical juncture earlier in the day with the announcement of a worker walkout by the Histadrut labor federation, which set off a cascade of similar announcements, including the grounding of planes at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Netanyahu on Monday afternoon called for calm ahead of opposing protests in Jerusalem over the reform initiative.

A large demonstration was taking place outside of the Knesset in the afternoon featuring opponents of the ruling coalition and its reform proposals, while a pro-reform gathering was planned for the evening.

“I call on all the demonstrators in Jerusalem, on the right and the left, to behave responsibly and not to act violently. We are brothers,” Netanyahu posted to his Twitter account.

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