Jerusalem (CNN) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday his controversial plans to weaken the judiciary would be delayed. Widespread strikes and protests brought the country to a standstill.
Netanyahu said he would delay the second and third votes on the remaining legislation until after the Knesset’s Passover recess in April to “give a real chance for a real debate.”
He insisted that restructuring was necessary and reiterated his criticism of refusing to train or serve in the military in protest of planned changes.
He said that the decision of our country is to refuse.
The original proposals would have made the most drastic change to the Israeli legal system since the country’s founding. The most important changes would allow a simple majority in the Knesset to overturn Supreme Court rulings; The Netanyahu government has sought to change the way judges are selected and remove independent legal advisers from government ministries.
But months of protests against the plans drew global attention and shook the country. The political crisis deepened on Sunday when Netanyahu’s office announced in a tax statement that Defense Minister Yoav Galant had been fired.
Over the next few hours, Israeli society came to a standstill as anger grew over the bill. Netanyahu has been condemned by his opponents and former Israeli prime ministers.
“We’ve never been closer to collapse. Our national security is at risk, our economy is crumbling, our foreign relations are at an all-time low, and we don’t know what to tell our children about their future in this country. We’ve been held hostage by a horde of extremists with no brakes and no borders.” Former Prime Minister Yair Labit said in the Knesset.
As he struggled to push through his bid last week, Netanyahu’s government also passed a law making it harder to oust prime ministers, which critics denounced as a self-preservation tactic.
By a final vote of 61-47, the Knesset says the prime minister or the cabinet, with a two-thirds majority, can declare the president disqualified. A Cabinet vote must be approved by a super majority in Parliament.
Netanyahu, the first Israeli prime minister to appear in court as a defendant, is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery. He denies any wrongdoing.