Ben-Gvir: Judicial reform pause means government is over

Ben-Gvir reportedly urged Netanyahu “not to surrender to [left-wing] terrorism” and said the prime minister should not give the demonstrators “a reward for violence.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

After hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in chaotic protests overnight Sunday and an unprecedented national labor strike was declared on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to give a public statement announcing a pause to legislation aiming to reform Israel’s judicial system.

While such an announcement could provide relief from the mass protests and strikes that are currently paralyzing the country, Netanyahu’s concession could spell the end of his right-wing coalition.

During a meeting of coalition party heads on Monday morning, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, said that any pause in the judicial overhaul would lead to the collapse of the government.

Notably, shortly after Ben-Gvir’s remarks, Netanyahu postponed a speech in which he was likely going to say that the pending legislation would be delayed until after the Knesset’s Passover recess.

According to Channel 14 News, Ben-Gvir met with Netanyahu at 2 a.m. on Monday as protesters lit fires, fought with police, and blocked Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

Ben-Gvir reportedly urged Netanyahu “not to surrender to [left-wing] terrorism,” telling him not to give the demonstrators “a reward for violence.”

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Other members of the coalition were said to be critical of Ben-Gvir, calling him “irresponsible.”

A senior coalition lawmaker told Channel 14 that “nobody wants the legislation postponed, “but “it’s clear that there’s no other choice right now.”

“Stopping the legislation would be a surrender to violence, anarchy, the reluctance and tyranny of the minority and would ruin the election results,” said the Religious Zionism party, headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, in a statement.

“We were and remain adherents of dialogue, compromises and agreements, but not under threats of a coup …on Israeli democracy. We owe it to the majority of the people to make their voices heard and to continue this important historical correction.”

Religious Zionism, which ran on a united slate with Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit and Avi Maoz’s Noam parties, holds 14 seats in the Knesset.

Should the party leave the coalition, Netanyahu’s Likud party would lose its majority in the Knesset, likely triggering yet another round of national elections.