Netanyahu approved mass strike, shutdown to stop judicial reform – report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coordinated airport shutdown in order to create excuse to pause judicial reform legislation, Chair of Airport Workers’ Union implies in affidavit.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his tacit approval to an unprecedented shutdown of the Israeli economy that took place in late March, according to a labor official.

The strike was launched by the Histadrut labor organization as a protest against judicial reform legislation and saw the country’s schools, municipalities, businesses, and airport shuttered.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and MK Simcha Rothman have maintained that the strike was illegal, and have signaled that they will pursue legal and economic punitive measures against the Histadrut for its role in the historic shutdown.

But the Chairman of the Airport Workers’ Union, Pinchas Idan, wrote in an affidavit that Netanyahu had been informed of the strike, and that it took place with his permission.

Idan is a member of the Likud party, and penned the affidavit to defend himself after party officials moved to expel him for his role in the airport shutdown, which saw departing and arriving flights stopped for several hours.

“Histadrut head Arnon Bar-David told me that the strike [at the airport] is coordinated with Netanyahu’s office and that it will be short,” Idan wrote in the affidavit, which was obtained by Kan News.

Idan argued that if the grounds for expulsion from Likud include coordinating the labor strike, Netanyahu should also be tossed out of the party.

His words insinuated that Netanyahu coordinated the airport shutdown in order to create an excuse to pause judicial reform legislation.

“All in all, I followed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s instructions. I demand that the court reject the petitions [to remove me from Likud],” he added.

The Likud party vehemently denied Idan’s claims in a statement.

“Contrary to… Idan’s words, we strongly opposed the strike and demanded that the Chairman of the Histadrut refrain from it and stop it immediately,” the Likud said. “Any other claim is incorrect.”

The strike, which brought the Israeli economy to an abrupt halt, was the tipping point that triggered Netanyahu to call for a pause legislative efforts until after the Knesset’s Passover recess.

Several members of Netanyahu’s coalition, including the chief architect of the reform, Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) and Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) had threatened to quit the government should the legislation be subjected to even a temporary halt.

But after the massive strike, both men agreed to the legislative pause in order to maintain a semblance of order in the Jewish State.

Netanyahu agreed to establish a National Guard headed by Ben-Gvir as an incentive for him to continue supporting the coalition.