Israel Latest: Netanyahu Mulls Judicial U-Turn as Strikes Spread

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a delay to his judicial overhaul after protests escalated, and he will speak later Monday. The main trade union joined a national strike which halted international flights.

(Bloomberg) —

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a delay to his judicial overhaul after protests escalated, and he will speak later Monday. The main trade union joined a national strike which halted international flights. 

Economy Minister Nir Barkat is among senior officials urging a pause, saying the planned overhaul is not worth a civil war. Yet ministers on the right of Netanyahu’s government are threatening to break up the coalition if he agrees to put the proposals on ice.

The potential for a delay boosted the shekel, which has been battered in recent weeks by some of the most sustained unrest in Israel’s history. 

The government’s proposal has sharply divided Israeli society and left the country facing criticism abroad. Thousands gathered once again on Monday, with groups both for and against the plan calling for further protests. 

Key Developments

  • Israel Protest Boils, Flights Curbed as Netanyahu Mulls Steps
  • Israeli Markets Rally on Signs of Delay to Netanyahu’s Plans
  • Night of Rage Puts Netanyahu in a Tight Corner: Balance of Power
  • In Pictures: Mass Protests Erupt in Israel Over Supreme Court Plan
  • Israel Defense Chief Calls for Freeze to Judicial Overhaul
  • Moody’s Is Latest to Warn Israel Credit at Risk From Legal Plans
  • Why Israel Is Bitterly Split by a Judiciary Overhaul: QuickTake

(All times CET)

Israel’s US Embassy Closes Over Strike Call (14:05 p.m.)

Israel’s embassy in Washington DC said it was closed for all activity, including consular work, after public sector strikes spread in Israel. Writing on Twitter, Ambassador Elad Strohmayer said the industrial action included all diplomatic missions around the world. 

Hardline Soccer Group Tells Fans to Take to Streets (14:00 p.m.)

La Familia, a football fans club known for racist remarks and violence, told supporters to protest at the Knesset Monday evening. 

“We have kept our mouths shut until now. We will not give up on our country,” it posted on its Facebook page. La Familia supports the Israeli Premier League club Beitar Jerusalem.

The group was flooding WhatsApp groups urging supporters to take up arms to attack pro-democracy demonstrators, Hareeta reported, prompting Netanyahu to call on all sides to avoid violence.

Israeli Markets Rally on Signs of Delay (13:45 p.m.)

Israeli markets rose on signs Netanyahu is considering delaying his plan. The shekel strengthened about 1.4% against the dollar after erasing earlier losses, while stocks advanced. The yield on the nation’s local-currency 10-year bond fell 11 basis points to 3.82%.

National Security Minister Threatens to Quit: Report (13.30 p.m.)

A prominent member of Netanyahu’s coalition is threatening to resign if Netanyahu backtracks on the legal overhaul, Haaretz reports. 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose support was key to Netanyahu coming back to power, is due for discussions with him, Israeli media reported. 

Netanyahu to Speak Later Monday (13:20 p.m.)

Netanyahu is planning to make a statement or hold a news conference later Monday, and is mulling a suspending the judicial overhaul, his office said. Netanyahu is meeting with coalition leaders to discuss the latest. 

Tel Aviv Highway Closes as Thousands Gather (11:25 a.m.)

The major highway around Tel Aviv shut down as thousands of demonstrators gathered with flags in opposition to the judicial changes. It had earlier been closed for hours overnight due to burning tires and protests. 

A large crowd grew outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.

Economy Minister Supports a Halt to Plan (11:23 a.m.)

Nir Barkat said he would back Netanyahu “in his decision to halt and reconsider,” according to a statement. “The reform is necessary and we will do it, but not at the price of a civil war.” 

He called on all members of the coalition to stand behind the prime minister, adding “we can not bring down a right-wing government with our own hands. Our strength is in our unity.”

Airport Grinding to Halt Due to National Strike (10:18 a.m.)

Workers at Israel’s international Ben Gurion Airport said they are joining a growing national strike, with both departures and landings expected to be halted over the course of the day, the Airport Workers Union said.

Employees at ports, hotels and the hi-tech industry are among a rising number of sectors also not at work, while malls and businesses closed their doors to create an effective shutdown of the economy.  

Likud Party Plans Counter Judicial Protest (10:03 a.m.)

Large protests are planned by Netanyahu’s Likud party, according to a text message, with officials calling on supporters to go to the Knesset and back the government’s plans. 

The far-right La Familia group of football fans group also issued a public call to supporters to attend a rally in Tel Aviv, setting up a potentially violent confrontation between those in favor and those against the judicial plans. 


–With assistance from Ethan Bronner, Gwen Ackerman, Marissa Newman and Netty Ismail.

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