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CRISIS: Netanyahu fires defense minister, strike shuts down Ben Gurion airport, protests intensify – PM expected to address nation soon

Opponents of judicial reforms take advantage of growing unrest to increase pressure on Netanyahu

Israelis block the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv during a protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul on March 26, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Following the announcement of a general strike by Israel's largest labor union, Histadrut, the workers’ union at Ben-Gurion International Airport announced an immediate halt to all departures from the busy airport.

“I ordered the immediate halt of take-offs at the airport,” said Pinchas Idan, who heads the workers' union.

Around the same time, reports came out that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indefinitely delayed his planned speech, due to threats from coalition members.

Netanyahu is under increasing pressure following his firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant yesterday evening.

Demonstrations erupted last night after the announcement, with protest leaders calling for a mass gathering outside of the Knesset at 2 p.m. today.

Earlier this morning, Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for an immediate halt to the judicial reform legislation.

“The entire nation is rapt with deep worry,” Herzog said.

"For the sake of the unity of the People of Israel, for the sake of the necessary responsibility, I call on you to halt the legislative process immediately."

Netanyahu was expected to make an announcement today at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, with many political commentators expecting the prime minister to announce a pause in the legislation of the judicial reforms.

However, reports also began erupt about the growing unrest among his coalition partners. At time of publication, no announcement regarding a statement from Netanyahu has been made.

The Religious Zionism party released a statement saying, "stopping the legislation will be a capitulation to violence, anarchy, rejectionism and the tyranny of the minority and will threaten the election results."

The party said they are willing to enter into negotiations for a compromise, but only if the judicial selection bill is passed. That bill was approved by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for final voting earlier this morning.

Israel's Heritage Minister, Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu of the Jewish Power party, said halting the legislation is “giving in to political coercion.”

“I think stopping the legislation is a really problematic thing,” he said in an interview with Army Radio.

According to a report from Channel 12 news, Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has threatened to leave the coalition if Netanyahu calls for a halt.

Walla News reported that Justice Minister Yariv Levin has also threatened to dissolve the government if the judicial reforms are stopped.

The Movement for Quality Government petitioned the High Court of Justice today against Netanyahu's dismissal of Minister Yoav Gallant last night. 

Opposition member, Avigdor Liberman, called on Netanyahu to resign.

“I hope that, as well as the halt to the legislation, we will hear about the resignation of the prime minister and justice minister,” he said.

He also said that Likud party members should “oust Netanyahu and form a new coalition consisting of the Zionist parties, with the prime minister coming from the ranks of Likud.”

The Prime Minister’s office has not officially confirmed any forthcoming announcement to made by Netanyahu.


This is a developing story...

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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