Coalition crisis: Will judicial reform be delayed? Justice minister will acquiesce to Netanyahu’s decision

Labor introduces bill to dissolve Knesset, prime minister reportedly meets with ministers in bid to secure his support for judicial reform pause and avoid fracture in government.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit party chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir Monday afternoon in a bid to reach an agreement on a delay of the government’s judicial reform package.

The meeting came after a tense gathering of coalition party leaders Monday morning during which, according to a report by Hebrew-language Kan, Ben-Gvir shouted at Netanyahu and threatened to resign. Ben-Gvir did not threaten to topple the government, however, reportedly saying his party would support it from the Opposition.

Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant (Likud), Sunday evening, a day after Gallant publicly called on the government halt the judicial reform.

Mass protests roiled Israel overnight, with President Isaac Herzog calling on the prime minister to freeze the judicial overhaul.

While Netanyahu had initially planned to address the nation on the issue Monday morning, with Channel 12 reporting that he had decided to suspend the reform, the televised statement was repeatedly delayed.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir all pushed back on the proposed pause, with the Religious Zionist Party issuing a public statement demanding the government at the very least pass the judicial appointments reform bill before delaying the remaining reforms.

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The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved the bill Monday morning, sending it to the Knesset for its second and third readings.

At the same time, the Labor party – which is not in the government, having failed to meet the electoral threshold in the November national election – drafted a bill to dissolve the 25th Knesset.

With the protest movement expanding Monday, shutting down international air travel and leading to partial hospital closures, Netanyahu pressed his coalition allies to acquiesce to a temporary freeze on the legislation, saying it would last just several weeks.

Smotrich agreed to the pause, Kan reported, while Levin, an architect of the judicial reform, issued a statement vowing to adhere to “any decision” reached by the prime minister in order to preserve the current government.

“This stems from an understanding that in a situation in which anyone can do whatever they feel to right could lead to the immediate toppling of the government and collapse of the Likud,” he said.

“We must all make an effort to stabilize the government and the coalition. We are all obliged not to make the mistake that led to the toppling of the Shamir government, a mistake that led to the disaster of the Oslo Accords.”