By Matis Glenn
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday evening that the government will hold off on proceeding with judicial reform legislation until the next Knesset session, granting time to hold negotiations after two days of political turmoil.
“Out of national responsibility, I decided to suspend the second and third readings to give time to reach an agreement,” Netanyahu said in an address Monday night to the country.
Tensions in Israel hit a fever pitch Sunday, when Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after the latter broke party ranks and voiced his opposition to advancing the judiciary reforms.
Protests erupted in the streets of Yerushalayim and Tel-Aviv; universities suspended classes, the Histadrut labor union called for an economic strike, which was heeded by malls, airports, and other businesses. The Israeli General Consulate in New York closed in protest of the ousting.
After Netanyahu’s speech, the strikes were called off.
While Justice Minister Yariv Levin maintained Sunday night that he would not support a pause – and was joined by MKs and ministers in Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism – word spread of Netanyahu’s possible decision to halt the proceedings. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir initially had threatened to leave the coalition; a move which could have dissolved the government. United Torah Judaism and Shas both said that they would support whichever decision Netanyahu would make on the issue.