Netanyahu Survives No Confidence Vote as Protests Cripple Israel

March 27, 2023

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu survived a no confidence vote in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), as protests rage throughout the nation of Israel.

The demonstrations have been going on for months against controversial judicial reforms introduced by Netanyahu and have grown into the largest ever in Israel.

On Monday the protests threatened to bring Israel to a stand-still as the country’s largest labor union called for a general strike, along with universities, hospitals, malls and Israel’s national carrier, El Al. Workers at Haifa port—the largest port in Israel—have also joined the work shutdown.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen mayors from across Israel went on a hunger strike Monday in Jerusalem, “demanding an end to the huge crisis and the disaster that Israel is hurtling towards,” according to Mayor Moshe Fadlon of the coastal city of Herzliya.

The protests, already at record levels, escalated further on Sunday when Netanyahu’s office announced the dismissal of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who had opposed the judicial reform, which Netanyahu publicized on Twitter.

Netanyahu had pledged sweeping reforms to Israel’s judicial system when he was sworn in for his sixth term in December. His government pushed for changes to limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to rule against the legislative and executive branch. Netanyahu’s government coalition is also seeking more say in appointing judges.

Technically, Netanyahu himself was barred from direct involvement in the reform initiative because he’s on trial for corruption charges, the he denies. He has backed the reforms, though, saying that they would boost business and strengthen Israel’s democracy by stopping court overreach.

On Monday an official in Netanyahu’s Likud party, speaking anonymously, told The Washington Post that Netanyahu was ready to bow to pressure and halt the overhaul. Al Jazeera reported similarly.

However, other Likud officials suggested to Israeli media that the judicial reforms might be frozen until after the Passover holiday and parliamentary recess next month—but the announcement was postponed amid reports Netanyahu had entered into emergency discussions with his coalition partners. 

Earlier on Monday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, tweeted out an “appeal” to “all Knesset factions” to interrupt the judicial review “[f]or the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of the responsibility.”

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