West News Wire: Israeli politics became chaotic as Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative government dealt with escalating opposition to its hotly contested proposals to restructure the court and was torn between offering concessions or not.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in massive demonstrations overnight across the nation after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed his defense minister for calling for a postponement of the revamp and warning that it represented a “tangible threat” to Israel’s security.
Israel’s president pleaded with the government to halt the reform on Monday, the largest union in the nation threatened to go on strike, and outward flights from the nation’s Ben Gurion airport were halted when staff there announced they would join the protest.
As the public anger mounted, Netanyahu’s government, widely regarded as the most rightwing in Israeli history, was deeply divided on how to respond to the mounting backlash.
A parliamentary committee controlled by one of the main architects of the overhaul convened on Monday to advance part of the legislation, while ultranationalist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir insisted that the government “must not surrender to anarchy”.
Israeli media reported that protests took place in more than 150 locations on Sunday, with thousands blocking a main highway in Tel Aviv, and others clashing with police outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.
A group of universities said they would go on strike, and Israel’s consul-general in New York resigned in protest. Arnon Bar-David, leader of Histadrut, Israel’s biggest union, said on Monday that its 700,000 members would strike unless the government immediately halted the overhaul.
“We can no longer polarise the nation,” he said. “Together we say, enough.”
The outpouring of anger has also drawn in the military, with increasing numbers of reservists threatening not to report for training, sparking fears that the military’s capabilities were being undermined.
Netanyahu said last week that the government would press ahead with the overhaul and bring the amendment that would give it greater control over judicial appointments to parliament for a final vote this week.