After massive protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a temporary halt to the controversial judicial reform. "I have decided to suspend the second and third readings in this session," Netanyahu said in Jerusalem on Monday. The legislative proposal will therefore be submitted to Parliament for a vote at the end of April at the earliest.
"We are in the midst of a crisis that threatens our essential unity," Netanyahu said. He warned of a civil war that must not come about. "Everyone must act responsibly," he said. So he stretches out his hand for dialogue.
Israel's Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir previously announced that he had reached an agreement with Netanyahu on a postponement. In return, a "national guard" is to be set up under the leadership of the far-right politician. What this means in concrete terms was not initially clear. According to media reports, Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu had previously met for an emergency meeting, in which Ben-Gvir is said to have threatened to resign if Netanyahu did not stick to the reform plans.
Organizers of the demonstrations, which have been going on for weeks, announced that they would continue the protests. "The government has brought Israel close to destruction and it still threatens to dismantle democracy. A temporary freeze is not enough and national protests will continue to intensify until the law is rejected in the Knesset," it said on Monday evening in a message.
With the judicial reform, Netanyahu's coalition wants to curtail the influence of the Supreme Court and expand the government's position of power. The right-wing religious coalition accuses the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions. According to the plans, Parliament should be able to overturn court decisions with a simple majority. In addition, the composition of the body for appointing judges is to be changed. Critics see the separation of powers in danger and warn of a state crisis.