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Netanyahu’s climbdown

Fire burns as people attend a demonstration after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the defense minister, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 27, 2023.

Fire burns as people attend a demonstration after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the defense minister, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 27, 2023.

REUTERS/Nir Elias

After civil unrest swept Israel in recent days, PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu announced Monday night that he would suspend the divisive judicial overhaul that, among other things, would allow the government to almost exclusively select judges.


Twelve weeks of unprecedented protests and strikes brought the country to its knees and caused Bibi to freeze the legislation until after the Passover break in May. But he stopped short of acknowledging how his actions — including firing the defense minister who criticized the judicial overhaul — have fueled the current unrest.

Instead, the PM blamed far-left agitators and the media for backing the protesters, while members of Bibi’s far-right coalition government called on their supporters to counter anti-government protesters in Jerusalem.

Though the mass strike has been called off for now, many protesters say they won’t be placated until the judicial overhaul is off the agenda entirely. For their part, opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz said they were willing to meet with the government to try and forge a path forward but noted that they had doubts about trusting the PM and needed to proceed with caution.

Despite the fact that far-right coalition partners are keen to see the reforms passed, they reluctantly signed off on the pause. Leaders of the Religious Zionism Party said that though the PM’s move was a “mistake,” they will continue to back him. But for how long?

Fresh polls released Monday night show that Bibi’s Likud Party would see its number of seats in the Knesset (parliament) plummet from 31 to 25 if elections were held today.

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