Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ruling coalition to halt its divisive judicial changes plan, “for the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility”, writes Al Jazeera.
“The appeal on Monday by the head of state, who normally does not get involved in politics, underlines the alarm that the proposals have caused and comes after a dramatic night of protests across Israel.
Israeli media outlets are now reporting that Netanyahu is expected to announce a to pause his judicial overhaul plan, despite calls from some of his ministers, such as the far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, for him to not back down.
But the pressure on Netanyahu is mounting, with the country’s main labour union announcing a general strike, and calling for the prime minister to withdraw his plan.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Israel in a spontaneous outburst of anger on Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly fired his defence minister for challenging his judicial overhaul plan.
Protesters in Tel Aviv, many wearing blue and white Israeli flags, blocked a main highway late on Sunday and lit large bonfires, while police scuffled with protesters who gathered outside Netanyahu’s private home in Jerusalem.
The unrest deepened a monthslong crisis over Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary, which has sparked mass protests, alarmed business leaders and former security chiefs, and drawn concern from the United States and other close allies.
Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant signalled that the prime minister and his allies will barrel ahead this week with the overhaul plan. Gallant had been the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against it, saying the deep divisions were threatening to weaken the military.
But as droves of protesters flooded the streets late into the night, Likud ministers began indicating a willingness to hit the brakes. Culture Minister Micky Zohar, a Netanyahu confidant, said the party would support him if he decided to pause the judicial overhaul.
Israeli media said leaders in Netanyahu’s coalition were to meet on Monday morning. Later in the day, the grassroots protest movement said it would hold another mass demonstration outside the Knesset, or parliament, in Jerusalem”, - writes the author.